President Donald Trump’s nominees to the federal bench pose a serious and ongoing threat to our rights and freedoms. These nominees often have records of favoring the interests of the wealthy and powerful at the expense of the rights and safety of workers, consumers, LGBTQ people, people of color, women, and immigrants.

To highlight how the federal judiciary is being transformed, this page focuses on the records of Trump judicial nominees issue-by-issue, including their records before joining the federal bench. Click an issue area below to learn more or click on a name to read our full nominee reports. (Please note that this list includes records of all of Trump’s appellate nominees as well as select district and court of claims nominees.)

 


ACCESS TO HEALTH CARE
Trump judges and nominees who have fought access to health care
(See also: Reproductive Rights)

  • Amy Coney Barrett (Seventh Circuit) criticized Chief Justice John Roberts for his decision in National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) v. Sebelius, 567 U.S. 519 (2012), which upheld Congress’s authority to enact large portions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
  • John Bush (Sixth Circuit) strongly opposed the ACA and said it needs to be “repealed.”
  • Ralph Erickson (Eighth Circuit) emphasized that he believes there is no right to health care. He said, “Many Americans believe that they have a ‘Right to Medical Care.’ This right is not enumerated in the Constitution—nor can it be divined from the language of the Constitution.”
  • Thomas Farr (Nominated to Eastern District of North Carolina; Withdrawn) compared the Supreme Court’s decision upholding the ACA to Plessy v. Ferguson and Dred Scott.
  • Britt Grant (Eleventh Circuit) challenged the ACA by filing an amicus brief that, had she been successful, would have eliminated tax subsidies for millions of Americans.
  • Steven Grasz (Eighth Circuit) said the Supreme Court’s decision upholding the ACA “placed the legitimacy of the court, as well as our freedom as Americans, in great jeopardy.”
  • Gregory Katsas (D.C. Circuit) represented the National Federation of Independent Business in its challenge to the ACA in National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) v. Sebelius, 567 U.S. 519 (2012).
  • Brett Kavanaugh (Supreme Court), while on the D.C. Circuit, dissented from two rulings upholding the ACA. In one dissent he wrote what a Kavanaugh clerk described as a “road map” to invalidate the law.
  • Eric Murphy (Sixth Circuit) challenged one of the ACA’s tax provisions. In Ohio v. United States, 849 F.3d 313 (6th Cir. 2017), Murphy argued that the ACA’s Transitional Reinsurance Program should only apply to private employers. The Sixth Circuit rejected Murphy’s “novel” argument.
  • Howard Nielson (District of Utah) co-authored amicus briefs challenging the ACA in Halbig v. Sebelius, 27 F.Supp.3d 1 (D.C. Cir. 2014) and King v. Burwell, 135 S.Ct. 2480 (2015).
  • Andrew Oldham (Fifth Circuit) was lead counsel in an effort by 20 states to strike down the ACA as unconstitutional. In Hotze v. Burwell, 784 F.3d 984 (5th Cir. 2015), Oldham argued that the ACA violated the Origination Clause of the Constitution.
  • Michael Park (Second Circuit) filed an amicus brief arguing the Affordable Care Act was unconstitutional.
  • Sarah Pitlyk (Nominated to Eastern District of Missouri) called the Supreme Court’s decision upholding the Affordable Care Act a “disastrous ruling” and an “unprincipled decision,” while praising then-Judge Brett Kavanaugh for “vigorously criticizing the law.”
  • David Porter (Third Circuit) wrote several columns arguing the ACA is unconstitutional.
  • Neomi Rao (D.C. Circuit) criticized the Affordable Care Act. Most notably, she criticized Chief Justice John Roberts for his opinion in the 2014 case King v. Burwell, 135 S. Ct. 475 (2014). Rao also criticized the conservative justices on the Supreme Court for not creating a “revolution” that would overturn “important” acts such as the ACA. She complained about the failure of the Supreme Court to overrule progressive laws, specifically noting “when it comes to something important . . . or we get the Affordable Care Act, well we’re not going to really interfere in those areas. So there seems like they’re saying we can draw a line, but they just won’t. Not when it’s anything really important.”
  • Chad Readler (Sixth Circuit), as acting head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division, filed a brief arguing that the ACA is unconstitutional.
  • Michael Truncale (Eastern District of Texas) argued, “If Obamacare is allowed to stand, there is no limit to what the federal government can do to you. It’s going to create 111 agencies that get between you and your doctor, it’s going to lead to government rationing of healthcare.”
  • Justin Walker (Western District of Kentucky) called the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the ACA “indefensible.” He praised then-Judge Kavanaugh for his “thorough and principled takedown” of the ACA and for providing a “roadmap” for Supreme Court justices “who said Obamacare was unconstitutional.”

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EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY
Trump judges and nominees who have fought efforts to ensure all persons have an equal opportunity to be hired, promoted, receive equal pay for equal work, and be free from harassment in the workplace

  • Amy Coney Barrett (Seventh Circuit), while on the Seventh Circuit, sided with an employer who segregated employees by race and ethnicity.
  • Michael Brennan (Seventh Circuit) has written derisively of the concept of a “glass ceiling” that prevents the advancement of women, expressing skepticism of such a “notion” that “rules were rigged” against some segments of society.
  • Kurt Engelhardt (Fifth Circuit), while a district court judge, had a troubling record with regard to workplace sexual harassment claims, often going out of his way to rule that allegations do not rise to the level of objectively hostile conduct and to keep cases from even being heard by a jury.
  • Thomas Farr (Nominated to Eastern District of North Carolina; Withdrawn) supported eliminating the right of workers to bring any employment discrimination lawsuit in state court. Farr also fought to invalidate a county ordinance that protected employees from discrimination. As an attorney, Farr defended a company when a supervisor said that female employees were “stupid, retarded, and awful,” that “women with children should be at home and not employed in the workplace,” and that he would go to an employee’s hotel room to “help [her] pick [her] panties off the floor.” Farr defended another company where a woman was denied a position because the job “was too hard and too rough for a woman.”
  • Gordon Giampietro (Nominated to Eastern District of Wisconsin; Withdrawn) disparaged the Civil Rights Act of 1964, claiming that “calls for diversity” are “code for relaxed standards.”
  • Neil Gorsuch (Supreme Court), while on the Tenth Circuit, repeatedly voted to deny women suing under Title VII for sex discrimination the opportunity to present evidence of discrimination to a jury.
  • Steven Grasz (Eighth Circuit) pushed for a measure that would have allowed employers to discriminate against LGBTQ employees.
  • Matthew Kacsmaryk (Northern District of Texas) argued that employers should be able to discriminate based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
  • Brett Kavanaugh (Supreme Court), while on the D.C. Circuit, dismissed an African-American employee’s claim alleging race discrimination. He dissented from a majority decision that recognized an African-American woman’s right to pursue race discrimination and retaliation claims under the Congressional Accountability Act. He also dissented from a decision which found that the State Department violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act when it terminated an employee on his sixty-fifth birthday.
  • Mark Norris (Western District of Tennessee) supported legislation that limited to $25,000 compensatory damages in retaliatory discharge cases and eliminated individual liability. He also supported legislation that prohibits cities from protecting gay and lesbian Tennesseans from being discriminated against based on sexual orientation.
  • Andrew Oldham (Fifth Circuit) fought Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) guidance for employers to help those with criminal histories have a fair chance in hiring decisions.
  • Halil Ozerden (Nominated to Fifth Circuit), as a district court judge, prevented employees who faced severe racial discrimination at work from having their claims heard by a jury, including in cases where workers found nooses hanging in the shipyard where they worked, repeatedly heard the N-word at work, and were threatened with racist graffiti.
  • Amy St. Eve (Seventh Circuit), while a district court judge, sided with an employer who segregated employees by race and ethnicity.
  • Lawrence VanDyke (Nominated to Ninth Circuit) opposed fair hiring policies that prohibit employers from asking applicants to disclose their criminal history on applications.
  • Don Willett (Fifth Circuit), while on the Texas Supreme Court, limited the amount of compensation that a victim of workplace sexual harassment and assault can collect from his or her employer. Before joining the Texas Supreme Court, Willett objected to a draft proclamation of then-Governor George W. Bush honoring the Texas Federation of Business and Professional Women. He wrote: “I resist the proclamation’s talk of ‘glass ceilings,’ pay equity (an allegation that some studies debunk), the need to place kids in the care of rented strangers, sexual discrimination/harassment and the need generally for better ‘working conditions’ for women (read: more government).”

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LGBTQ AMERICANS
Trump judges and nominees who have fought fairness, equality, and opportunity for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Americans

  • Campbell Barker (Eastern District of Texas) signed Texas’s amicus brief in support of Masterpiece Cakeshop, which had refused to sell a wedding cake to a same-sex couple. Barker is also on Texas’s amicus brief supporting a flower shop’s discrimination against same-sex couples by refusing to sell flowers for a couple to use in a wedding.
  • Elizabeth Branch (Eleventh Circuit) praised Justice Scalia’s dissent in Lawrence v. Texas.
  • Andrew Brasher (Middle District of Alabama) filed a brief opposing marriage equality in Obergefell v. Hodges.
  • Jeffrey Brown (Southern District of Texas), as a state court judge, consistently ruled against marriage equality and expressed personal disdain for Obergefell v. Hodges. On the Texas Supreme Court he joined the majority opinion in Pidgeon v. Turner, which held that cities in Texas could defy Obergefell’s ruling and deny married same-sex couples the rights of marriage. He also joined a majority opinion that restricted same-sex sexual harassment claims.
  • John Bush (Sixth Circuit) criticized the State Department for modifying passport application forms to account for the possibility of same-sex parents.
  • Kyle Duncan (Fifth Circuit) warned of “a rapid movement towards sort of general cultural acceptance of homosexuality and homosexual practices.” Duncan co-authored an amicus brief representing Louisiana’s opposition to same-sex marriage. He wrote elsewhere that if the Supreme Court recognized that same-sex marriage was a fundamental right, the “harms” to our democracy “would be severe, unavoidable, and irreversible.” Duncan also sought to deny same-sex couples adoption rights. Duncan represented Virginia’s Gloucester County School Board and argued that Gavin Grimm, a transgender high school boy, should not be allowed to use the men’s restroom. Finally, Duncan has spoken several times before the Alliance Defending Freedom, an organization that has defended the state enforced sterilization of transgender people overseas and is classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
  • Kurt Engelhardt (Fifth Circuit), while a district court judge, made clear his opposition to same-sex marriage, noting that a state does not need to recognize marriages that violate public policy of the state and saying that “the Louisiana Legislature has clearly stated the ‘strong public policy’ of this state against recognition of same-sex marriages.”
  • Neil Gorsuch (Supreme Court), while on the Supreme Court, ruled against the rights of LGBTQ Americans in Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. On the Tenth Circuit he joined a panel opinion upholding summary judgment in favor of an employer who banned a transgender woman from using the women’s restroom until she could prove that she had undergone sex reassignment surgery, and then declined to renew her teaching contract. He rejected a claim by a transgender woman incarcerated in Oklahoma who alleged that her constitutional rights were violated when she was denied medically necessary hormone treatment. In an op-ed published in the National Review Online, Gorsuch attacked “American liberals” for what he said was an overreliance on litigation to “effect[] their social agenda on everything from gay marriage to assisted suicide to the use of vouchers for private-school education.”
  • Britt Grant (Eleventh Circuit) assisted on an amicus brief opposing same-sex marriage in Obergefell. Grant opposed government guidance that called for transgender students to be permitted to use facilities that conform to their gender identity.
  • Steven Grasz (Eighth Circuit) supported a law that would allow employers to discriminate against LGBTQ persons. He was director of the Nebraska Family Alliance, which supports conversion therapy. As Chief Deputy Attorney General of Nebraska, Grasz opposed the recognition in Nebraska of same-sex marriages contracted in other states. Further, in 1999, Grasz represented Nebraska as amicus curiae in a suit regarding the denial of marriage licenses for same-sex couples. Grasz also argued before the Nebraska Supreme Court that state law did not allow an unmarried lesbian couple to adopt a child.
  • James Ho (Fifth Circuit) defended Texas’s Defense of Marriage Act. Ho litigated In the Matter of the Marriage of J.B. & H.B., where a same-sex couple that had been married in Massachusetts sought to obtain a divorce in Texas.
  • Matthew Kacsmaryk (Northern District of Texas) has written that while the “Civil Rights Movement” was on “the right side of history,” the same cannot be said for efforts by LGBTQ persons to achieve equality.
  • Gregory Katsas (D.C. Circuit) defended the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in two cases and strongly opposed Obergefell.
  • Joan Larsen (Sixth Circuit) objected to Lawrence v. Texas and criticized the Justice Department for not defending the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act. As a state supreme court justice, moreover, Larsen failed to give Obergefell full effect.
  • Kenneth Lee (Ninth Circuit) has writings from his twenties that show extremely troubling views on LGBTQ equality, ranging from harmful stereotypes about the LGBTQ community and the AIDS epidemic, to characterizing LGBTQ campus advocacy as the work of “militant gays.”
  • Jeff Mateer (Nominated to Eastern District of Texas; Withdrawn) called transgender children part of “Satan’s plan.”
  • Steven Menashi (Nominated to Second Circuit) has implied that LGBTQ identities are “outside and above nature” and those who support equality are attempting to “peer[] down on the rest of creation with a godlike power to manipulate it for our own purposes. He supported the ban on lesbian, gay and bisexual people serving in the military; he opposed court decisions which recognized marriage equality; and he defended discrimination against LGBTQ Americans in public accommodations such as restaurants and movie theaters. He accused a leading LGBTQ group of exploiting the brutal murder of Matthew Shepard for political and financial ends. During his leadership at the Department of Education, the Department weakened Title IX protections for transgender students.
  • Eric Murphy (Sixth Circuit) defended Ohio’s prohibition on same-sex marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges. During Murphy’s tenure as state solicitor, the state of Ohio joined an amicus brief in Gloucester County School Board v. G.G., defending a school board’s refusal to allow a transgender student to use the bathroom that matched his gender identity.
  • Howard Nielson (District of Utah) defended Proposition 8 in California, which would have banned same-sex marriage in California. After the district court, in Perry v. Schwarzenegger, ruled that Proposition 8 was unconstitutional, Nielson filed a motion to vacate the judgment. Nielson’s motion argued that the judge “had a duty to disclose not only the facts concerning his [same-sex] relationship, but also his marriage intentions.” Nielson continued his opposition to same-sex marriage years later, when he authored an amicus brief opposing marriage equality in Obergefell v. Hodges.
  • Mark Norris (Western District of Tennessee) supported legislation that prohibits cities in Tennessee from protecting LGBTQ people from being discriminated against based on sexual orientation. Norris cosponsored a joint resolution urging Congress to pass the Federal Marriage Amendment, which would define marriage exclusively as the “union of a man and a woman.” Norris supported legislation that directly conflicted with Obergefell v. Hodges, a bill that, as one supporter noted, was passed to “compel courts to side with the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and his dissent.” In addition, ignoring legal advice from the state attorney general that Obergefell applied to state divorce and child custody proceedings, Norris tried to intervene in a matter in order to prevent a state court from applying Obergefell. Not only was Norris’s legal position in direct conflict with Supreme Court precedent, the judge in the case noted that Norris’s actions “constitute[d] an attempt to bypass the separation of powers provided for by the Tennessee Constitution.”
  • Peter Phipps (Third Circuit) defended the discharge of a nurse from the United States Air Force under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in Witt v. Department of the Air Force.
  • David Porter (Third Circuit) praised Senator Rick Santorum’s 2005 book, It Takes a Family, writing that “[Santorum] argues, ‘the currency of social capital is trust’ and that ‘is first created and then nurtured by healthy families,’ a prosperous society ‘depends on healthy mom-and-dad families.’” Porter was also a contributor to The Center for Vision & Values, a think tank at Grove City College. Grove City College does not allow its students to accept federal financial aid in order to avoid complying with Title IX. The Princeton Review ranked Grove City College as one of the least LGBTQ-friendly colleges in the country.
  • Neomi Rao (D.C. Circuit) said that while LGBTQ people “have established themselves as a minority group fighting against discrimination” and “trendy political movements have only recently added sexuality to the standard checklist of traits requiring tolerance,” there was a major difference between sexuality and race or gender: “People who tolerate women in the workplace and blacks and Hispanics as neighbors view homosexuality as a behavior – and behaviors, unlike gender and race, are subject to change,” she said. “No one knows whether sexuality is a biological phenomenon or a social construct. The truth may lie somewhere in the middle.” Prior to Rao’s departure, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), under her leadership, was finalizing a rule proposed by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that would allow health care providers to refuse to provide medical care to patients towards whom providers have “conscientious objections.” Additionally, Rao’s office worked with Betsy DeVos’s Department of Education to roll back protections for LGBTQ students on college campuses. Proposed changes to Title IX would expand schools’ ability to discriminate against LGBTQ students under the guise of religious exemptions.
  • William Ray II (Northern District of Georgia), as chairman of the Gwinnett County Republican Party, passed a resolution “strongly oppos[ing] any plan, legislation, or resolution which may explicitly or implicitly condone homosexual behavior. Such plans which are opposed include, but are not limited to, the passage of legislation to implement in Gwinnett County any domestic partner benefit plan.” Ray said that “[o]ur main point in passing the resolution is not to grant members of the homosexual community greater rights than exist in the general citizenry.”
  • Chad Readler (Sixth Circuit) was responsible for advancing the anti-LGBTQ agenda of the Justice Department as the acting assistant attorney general of DOJ’s Civil Division. He signed an amicus brief in support of the discriminatory actions of the bakery in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. Readler also defended Trump’s transgender military ban.
  • Lee Rudofsky (Nominated to Eastern District of Arkansas) defended Arkansas when two same-sex couples sued the state to require Arkansas to list the spouse of a birth mother, regardless of gender, as the second parent of their child on their birth certificate. He also fought a city ordinance banning discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity and has authored or edited multiple articles justifying LGBTQ discrimination. He signed an amicus brief advocating that a florist has the right to refuse to serve a same-sex couple. At his Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, he disavowed previous support for marriage equality.
  • Allison Rushing (Fourth Circuit) worked at the Alliance Defending Freedom, an organization that has defended the state-enforced sterilization of transgender people overseas and is classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Rushing spoke favorably of the Defense of Marriage Act.
  • Damien Schiff (Nominated to Court of Federal Claims; Withdrawn) wrote that “I contend that the due process clause, assuming that it has a substantive component, likely does not forbid the criminalization of sodomy.” Schiff spoke out against marriage equality in California. Schiff was critical of a decision in Florida invalidating that state’s ban on same-sex couples adopting children. He also has criticized a school district’s attempt to address bullying of LGBTQ students, contending it was “teaching ‘gayness’ in public schools.”
  • Brantley Starr (Northern District of Texas) led Texas’s efforts to block guidance from federal agencies that protected gender identity as a form of sex discrimination under Title IX. He signed an opinion letter after Obergefell v. Hodges claiming that civil servants, including clerks, judges, and justices of the peace, could still refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. He also defended several bills in Texas that discriminate against gay couples in the adoption and foster care systems.
  • Amul Thapar (Sixth Circuit), as a district court judge sitting by designation on the Sixth Circuit, rejected a worker’s same-sex sexual harassment and retaliation claims, inappropriately restricting same-sex sexual harassment claims by requiring the victim produce “credible evidence that the harasser was homosexual.
  • Michael Truncale (Eastern District of Texas) warned of dire consequences if Trump lost the election, writing that “liberals want to require pharmacists to sell abortion drugs despite religious objections and to force Christian photographers to use their artistic skills to celebrate same-sex weddings.”
  • Lawrence VanDyke (Nominated to Ninth Circuit) worked as an allied attorney and a Blackstone Fellow for Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) which, “has supported the recriminalization of homosexuality in the U.S. and criminalization abroad; has defended state-sanctioned sterilization of trans people abroad; has linked homosexuality to pedophilia and claims that a ‘homosexual agenda’ will destroy Christianity and society.” In an article for the Harvard Law Record, he promoted the myth that same-sex marriage and families will harm children and society and that LGBTQ people are deviant and dangerous. While Solicitor General of Montana, he regularly supported bans on same-sex marriage in other states.  He also supported the Defense of Marriage Act and opposed laws protecting LGBTQ Americans from being discriminated against.
  • Don Willett (Fifth Circuit) disparaged the right of LGBTQ people to marriage equality, when he joked about wanting the “right to marry bacon” in a tweet. He also joked about California’s laws relating to transgender students’ participation in school sports. Willett has also consistently ruled against same-sex marriage rights. In 2005, Willett attended a Texas Restoration Project event that the Austin Chronicle described as an event for then-Governor Rick Perry and “religious conservatives [to] get together to bash gays.”
  • Allen Winsor (Northern District of Florida) defended Florida’s ban on same-sex marriages.

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NATIVE AMERICANS
Trump judges and nominees who have fought fairness, equality, and opportunity for Native Americans

  • Ryan Bounds (Nominated to Ninth Circuit; Withdrawn) served as opinion editor and assistant news editor for the Stanford Review. During his time there, The Stanford Review’s editorial page began a repeated segment called “Smoke Signals” which featured a crude caricature of a Native American. Stanford University President Gerhard Casper and Provost Condoleezza Rice criticized The Stanford Review’s use of the image and approximately a dozen Native American students wrote letters of complaint.
  • Brett Kavanaugh (Supreme Court), while on the D.C. Circuit, exhibited a lack of understanding of tribal rights and Native American history in past writings on the topic. He wrote an amicus brief supporting a challenge to the Hawaiian Constitution, which Native rights activists argue misclassified tribes as racial minorities instead of sovereign nations protected by the Constitution.
  • Kenneth Lee (Ninth Circuit), in his twenties, mocked the “politically correct clique” for criticizing professional sports teams that use offensive Native American caricatures and stereotypes in their mascots and cheers.
  • Robert Luck (Nominated to Eleventh Circuit) as a state court judge criticized the longstanding doctrine of tribal immunity.
  • Steven Menashi (Nominated to Second Circuit), while in college, defended the Dartmouth College football cheer, “Wah-Hoo-Wah! Scalp ‘Em,” and dismissed the idea that it proceeded “from a racist belief in the inferiority of American Indians.”
  • Eric Miller (Ninth Circuit) has a lengthy and disturbing record on Native issues, leading to opposition to his nomination from the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) and the Native American Rights Fund (NARF). This is one of only a small handful of times in NCAI’s history that they have formally opposed a judicial nomination.
  • Michael Park (Second Circuit) worked on two briefs in Sturgeon v. Frost, advocating for a position that could lead to the elimination of federal protection of subsistence fishing rights for Alaska Natives.
  • Lawrence VanDyke (Nominated to Ninth Circuit) argued that Agua Caliente Tribe did not have a federally-reserved right to the groundwater under their reservation.
  • Patrick Wyrick (Western District of Oklahoma) served as lead counsel and negotiator for the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office in a five-year dispute over water rights with two of Oklahoma’s largest Indian tribes – the Chickasaw Nation and Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. Wyrick has also fought tribal sovereignty in amicus briefs and Supreme Court petitions on behalf of Oklahoma, including opposing tribal immunity from suits brought by states in Michigan v. Bay Mills Indian Community and Oklahoma v. Hobia; and arguing against tribal court jurisdiction to adjudicate certain claims against nonmembers in Dollar Gen. Corp. v. Miss. Band of Choctaw Indians.

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PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES
Trump judges and nominees who have fought fairness, equality, and opportunity for persons with disabilities

  • Mark Bennett (Ninth Circuit) supported massive statewide cuts to special-education programs in Hawaii’s state budget.
  • Michael Brennan (Seventh Circuit) praised the Supreme Court’s decision in Board of Trustees of the University of Alabama v. Garrett which held that persons with disabilities could not sue state governments for damages under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
  • Neil Gorsuch (Supreme Court), while on the Tenth Circuit, consistently ruled against rights and protections for persons with disabilities, including reading the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) extremely narrowly. For example, at the exact moment Neil Gorsuch was testifying in his confirmation hearing, the Supreme Court issued Endrew F. v. Douglas Cty. Sch. Dist. In that case, the Supreme Court unanimously reversed the extraordinarily low standard for educational benefit under the IDEA that Gorsuch created in Thompson School Dist. V. Luke P. In that case, he ruled against a student with autism who needed placement in a residential school program due to his lack of progress in school. Also illuminating was Hwang v. Kan. State Univ, where Gorsuch ignored clearly established law and allowed an employer to deny a professor recovering from cancer an accommodation to work from home when her doctor told her if she returned to work during a flu epidemic she could die.
  • Ryan Nelson (Ninth Circuit) was counsel for a group of states that supported Tennessee in claiming that persons with disabilities could not sue for money damages under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Nelson’s brief stated, “there is no general constitutional right to public buildings that are physically ‘accessible’ to the disabled.”
  • Mark Norris (Western District of Tennessee) sought an opinion from the state attorney general exempting the state airport authority from a Tennessee law that states that “no agency, city, town or other municipality or any agency thereof shall exact any fee for parking” in a handicap space by drivers with disabilities. Norris ensured the Memphis Airport could charge parking fees to drivers with disabilities.
  • Andrew Oldham (Fifth Circuit) supported efforts to prevent Texans with disabilities from suing the state.
  • Neomi Rao ( D.C. Circuit), as Mother Jones noted, “is a staunch defender of dwarf-tossing.”
  • David Stras (Eighth Circuit), while on the Minnesota Supreme Court, joined an opinion limiting the state assistance for a nine-year-old boy with a severe disability.
  • Amy St. Eve (Seventh Circuit), while a district court judge, dismissed a discrimination suit under the ADA that was reversed by the Seventh Circuit. The plaintiff, Linda Reed, who suffered from an untreatable neurological condition characterized by involuntary movements, claimed that a state circuit court judge in Illinois had failed to allow her sufficient accommodations during her pro se personal injury action in his court. In reversing, Judge Richard Posner wrote: “For one court (the state court) to deny accommodations without which a disabled plaintiff has no chance of prevailing in her trial, and for another court (the federal district court) on the basis of that rejection to refuse to provide a remedy for the discrimination that she experienced in the first trial, is to deny the plaintiff a full and fair opportunity to vindicate her claims.”

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RACIAL EQUITY
Trump judges and nominees who have shown insensitivity towards persons of color
(See also Equal Employment Opportunity and Voting Rights)

  • Ryan Bounds (Nominated to Ninth Circuit; Withdrawn) wrote articles expressing hostility towards multiculturalism and diversity.
  • Andrew Brasher (Middle District of Alabama) filed an amicus brief in support of a Florida law mandating universal drug testing for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) applicants – an unconstitutional law that would have made low income families pay for drug tests and had a disparate impact on persons of color. The Eleventh Circuit found the law stripped away the “legitimate expectations of privacy” “by virtue of [their] poverty.”
  • Michael B. Brennan (Seventh Circuit) argued to make a statute of limitations in civil rights suits as narrow as possible.
  • Liles Burke (Northern District of Alabama) kept a portrait of Confederate President Jefferson Davis hanging in his office.
  • John Bush (Sixth Circuit) spread conspiracy theories falsely alleging that President Obama was born in Africa.
  • Daniel Collins (Ninth Circuit) defended Wells Fargo’s racially discriminatory lending practices, which allegedly led to high rates of foreclosures for families of color as well as and deepened racial segregation within the city.
  • Gordon Giampietro (Nominated to Eastern District of Wisconsin; Withdrawn) claimed that “calls for diversity” are “code for relaxed standards.”
  • Gregory Katsas (D.C. Circuit) described the 2014 Supreme Court term as “grim” and a “very bad year for conservatives,” highlighting the Court’s decision in Texas Dept. of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project, which upheld disparate impact claims under the Fair Housing Act.
  • Kenneth Lee (Ninth Circuit) wrote a number of articles that demonstrated a profound trivialization of America’s racial history and the resultant need for robust civil rights laws.
  • Steven Menashi (Nominated to Second Circuit) argued against diverse communities, writing that “ethnically heterogeneous societies exhibit less political and civic engagement, less effective government institutions, and fewer public goods.” He compared universities’ collection of race data in college admissions to Germany under Adolf Hitler. He defended a fraternity that threw a “ghetto party,” characterizing the event as “harmless and unimportant.” As Acting General Counsel of the Department of Education, he narrowed the scope of civil rights enforcement.
  • Mark Norris (Western District of Tennessee) led the effort to prohibit local communities from removing monuments to Confederate leaders from parks or public spaces.
  • Michael Park (Second Circuit) on behalf of the Project on Fair Representation, is defending the Trump Administration’s effort to insert a citizenship question into the 2020 census. Park is committed to dismantling equal opportunity programs. In 2012, he served as a key contributor in Fisher v. University of Texas, 133 S. Ct. 2411 (2013), writing an amicus brief on behalf of petitioner Abigail Fisher in support of her argument that the university’s use of race as one consideration among many in the admissions process was unconstitutional. Park is also representing the plaintiff group, Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA), that has sued Harvard University for its race-conscious admissions process.
  • Peter Phipps (Third Circuit) represented the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in Thompson v. United States HUD, in which a court held that HUD violated the Fair Housing Act through its practice of what the Legal Defense Fund described as “unfairly concentrating African-American public housing residents in the most impoverished, segregated areas of Baltimore City.”
  • Sarah Pitlyk (Nominated to Eastern District of Missouri) argued that college equal opportunity programs “unjustly impose the costs of remedying past discrimination on individuals who have no personal responsibility for prior wrongs,” and that they “entrench racial prejudices, rather than alleviate them.”
  • Neomi Rao (D.C. Circuit) said “for the past decades, Yale has dedicated itself to a relatively firm meritocracy, which drops its standards only for a few minorities, some legacies and a football player here or there.” She also wrote, “[t]he multiculturalists are not simply after political reform. Underneath their touchy-feely talk of tolerance, they seek to undermine American culture. They argue that culture, society and politics have been defined – and presumably defiled – by white, male heterosexuals hostile to their way of life.”
  • Lee Rudofsky (Nominated to Eastern District of Arkansas) voiced opposition to affirmative action.
  • Damien Schiff (Nominated to Court of Federal Claims; Withdrawn) compared affirmative action to slavery, Jim Crow, and the internment of Japanese Americans in World War II. He also admits he would have “objected to an anti-racism curriculum being taught in 1950s Arkansas.”
  • Brett Talley (Nominated to Middle District of Alabama; Withdrawn) purportedly wrote a blog post defending the early KKK.
  • Wendy Vitter (Eastern District of Louisiana) bought a house with a racial covenant that stated the house could only be sold to whites.
  • Allen Winsor (Northern District of Florida) defended a Florida statute that required drug tests for all applicants seeking Temporary Assistance for Needy Families benefits. The law was found unconstitutional.
  • Don Willett (Fifth Circuit) wrote that “[t]he judgment of history is clear that the vast majority of minorities are not held back by racial bigotry, but by fractured families and poor K-12 schools that deny them the credentials required to enter elite social institutions.”

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VOTING RIGHTS
Trump judges and nominees who have fought to make it easier for states to suppress the vote, gerrymander, and dilute minority votes

  • Campbell Barker (Eastern District of Texas) defended Texas’s voter photo ID law that intentionally discriminated against persons of color and unconstitutionally burdened the right to vote.
  • Andrew Brasher (Middle District of Alabama) filed an amicus brief in Shelby County v. Holder that supported eroding the Voting Rights Act. He also defended Alabama’s felon anti-voter law that, according to one study, disenfranchises over 286,000 Alabamians, and supported an Arizona law, rejected by the Supreme Court, requiring voters to show proof of citizenship before voting. Brasher has a history of defending unconstitutional racial gerrymanders in Alabama and in Virginia. He wrote in his personal capacity criticizing the Supreme Court’s efforts to correct racial gerrymanders.
  • Kyle Duncan (Fifth Circuit) unsuccessfully represented North Carolina in an attempt to obtain a Supreme Court reversal of the Fourth Circuit’s ruling invalidating a restrictive voting law that required voters to have photo identification, reduced the days of early voting, and eliminated same-day registration, out-of-precinct voting, and preregistration. Duncan also co-authored a brief in Abbott v. Veasey petitioning for Supreme Court review and defending Texas’s strict voter identification law.
  • Allison Eid (Tenth Circuit) praised Bush v. Gore and criticized Baker v. Carr and Reynolds v. Sims. Eid was the sole dissenter when the Colorado Supreme Court upheld a court-imposed redistricting plan. She was the only judge who sided with Republicans who advocated for less competitive districts.
  • Neil Gorsuch (Supreme Court), while on the Supreme Court, joined the majority in Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute to allow Ohio to target infrequent voters for removal from the voter rolls and deprive them of the right to vote. He refused to hear an appeal concerning North Dakota’s efforts to make it harder for Native Americans to vote. In Abbott v. Perez, he rejected a challenge to Texas’s racially discriminatory redistricting. In Abbott, Gorsuch joined Justice Thomas’s concurrence saying that the Voting Rights Act “does not apply to redistricting,” despite numerous cases holding otherwise. Without briefing or argument, Gorsuch would have eviscerated the Voting Rights Act’s protections against racial discrimination.
  • Britt Grant (Eleventh Circuit) drafted, reviewed, or edited an amicus brief for six states, including Georgia, in support of gutting the Voting Rights Act in Shelby County v. Holder. She also signed onto a brief in Kobach v. U.S. Election Assistance Comm’n & Project Vote, Inc., which involved documentary proof of citizenship as a voter registration requirement.
  • Brett Kavanaugh (Supreme Court), while on the D.C. Circuit, upheld a South Carolina voter ID law that the Justice Department argued disenfranchised tens of thousands of people of color. In contrast to two of his colleagues, he also declined to endorse the importance of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, before the Shelby County decision was issued.
  • Kenneth Lee (Ninth Circuit) believes states should be allowed to take away voting rights for millions of men and women who have paid their debts to society and served their criminal sentences.
  • Eric Murphy (Sixth Circuit) defended Ohio’s voter purge in Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute. Murphy also helped to end early voting in the state during “Golden Week.”
  • John Nalbandian (Sixth Circuit) wrote an amicus brief on behalf of the Center for Equal Opportunity and Project 21 in support of Indiana’s voter ID law, which required citizens voting in person to provide government-issued photo identification. Nalbandian also defended Ohio’s legislature when it sought to undo a civil rights consent decree designed to protect voters.
  • Mark Norris (Western District of Tennessee) was an ardent supporter of a strict voter ID law in Tennessee. Norris also pushed an amendment that required proof of citizenship to vote.
  • Andy Oldham (Fifth Circuit) co-authored an amicus brief for the state of Texas in Shelby County v. Holder in support of eroding the Voting Rights Act.
  • Lee Rudofsky (Nominated to Eastern District of Arkansas) defended Arkansas’s voter ID law.
  • Brantley Starr (Northern District of Texas) defended Texas’s discriminatory voter ID law in Veasey v. Abbott and Texas’s redistricting plans, which allegedly violated the Constitution and Voting Rights Act by intentionally diluting the votes of minority communities, in Abbott v. Perez. He also falsely testified before a Texas Senate hearing that a deceased judge’s name had been found on voting rolls after his death, and wrote two letters advocating for measures that would make it more difficult for people to vote.
  • David Stras (Eighth Circuit), while on the Minnesota Supreme Court, joined an opinion in League of Women Voters v. Ritchie rejecting challenges to a ballot question —which, as Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Alan Page noted, was “phrased to actively deceive and mislead” —seeking to amend the state constitution to require a photo ID for voting.
  • Chad Readler (Sixth Circuit) served as an attorney for the Koch-funded “Buckeye Institute,” a far-right think tank that has filed numerous briefs in support of restrictive voting laws in Ohio, including voter roll purges, rolling back early voting, and limitations on allowing voters to cast absentee and provisional ballots. Later, at DOJ, Readler repeatedly defended President Trump’s Commission on Election Integrity. Readler also defended the Trump Administration’s controversial “Citizenship Question” census proposal.
  • Allen Winsor (Northern District of Florida), as solicitor general of Florida, defended several troubling laws, including repeated efforts in Florida to dilute the vote of persons of color and make it harder for Floridians to vote. Winsor also wrote how Florida Republicans “saw that through the process of creating majority-minority districts, African-Americans would be aggregated, even packed, into districts almost sure to elect their candidate of choice[.]” This Republican strategy, Winsor writes, required “Republicans to ‘court’ black Democrats, especially, but not exclusively, in the South[,]” and for Republicans to “‘sell’ African Americans on the idea that GOP and black political interests actually merged on the eve of legislative and congressional redistricting.”
  • Patrick Wyrick (Western District of Oklahoma) signed an amicus brief on behalf of Oklahoma in support of a Virginia voting law that was struck down by the Fourth Circuit. For a third-party candidate to appear on a presidential ballot in Virginia, he or she must gather a minimum number of signatures from voters. The Virginia law at issue required that every ballot signature be witnessed by a Virginia resident.

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CONSUMERS
Trump judges and nominees who have fought rights and protections for consumers

  • Andrew Brasher (Middle District of Alabama) has repeatedly opposed the right of individuals to band together to hold corporations accountable and joined a challenge to the constitutionality of the Dodd-Frank Act.
  • Michael Brennan (Seventh Circuit) criticized the Wisconsin Supreme Court for invalidating a cap on non-economic damages in medical malpractice claims. The ruling came in a case in which a doctor’s negligence injured an infant during birth and left him partially paralyzed with a deformed right arm. In the case, damages would have been capped at only half of what the jury awarded the boy.
  • Daniel Bress (Ninth Circuit) repeatedly opposed the right of people to band together in class action lawsuits to hold corporations accountable. He defended many corporations against class actions, including a corporation that allegedly deceived plaintiffs in an asbestos injury case and misled them into settlements by lying about the facts.
  • Jeffrey Brown (Southern District of Texas) as a state court judge barred a lawsuit brought by a former Navy officer who developed mesothelioma from asbestos products. He has also delivered several speeches to organizations that fight to keep Americans from holding corporations accountable.
  • Daniel Collins (Ninth Circuit), as an attorney for Big Tobacco, fought health protections for consumers and helped tobacco companies avoid liability for injuries inflicted on victims of fraudulent advertising.
  • Allison Eid (Tenth Circuit) praised efforts to limit the ability of aggrieved individuals to bring lawsuits and recover damages. She also has argued in favor of making it more difficult for individuals to join together in class action lawsuits to hold corporations accountable. Eid participated in numerous tort cases on the Colorado Supreme Court, consistently ruling in favor of protecting corporations and limiting recovery for harmed plaintiffs.
  • Neil Gorsuch (Supreme Court) argued that securities fraud class actions should be more difficult to achieve. He has criticized civil discovery. Gorsuch, while on the Tenth Circuit, held that a medical device company is immune from liability for harm caused by its product when it sells that product for a use that has never been approved by the FDA and never found to be safe and effective. Judge Gorsuch also held that the Consumer Product Safety Commission could not ensure children are safe from certain toys.
  • James Ho (Fifth Circuit) supported Texas’s cap on medical malpractice suits.
  • Gregory G. Katsas (D.C. Circuit) supported the Court’s decision in Wal-mart v. Dukes, which refused to certify a nationwide class of female Walmart employees who had alleged sex discrimination. He described it as a “nice win for business.” He has also supported heightened pleading standards.
  • Brett Kavanaugh (Supreme Court), while on the D.C. Circuit, argued the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is Kavanaugh sided against the FCC’s net neutrality rule. When a consumer group fought for stricter tire safety standards, Kavanaugh ruled against them.
  • Barbara Lagoa (Nominated to Eleventh Circuit) as a state court judge made it harder for homeowners to defend themselves against banks that were improperly trying to foreclose upon their homes by denying them the right to attorney’s fees. In another case, she sided with a bank and reversed a decision that had found a foreclosure claim was barred by the statute of limitations; overturning what the dissent noted was “almost eighty years of well-established Florida jurisprudence.”
  • Kenneth Lee (Ninth Circuit) represented corporate interests and criticized those who sought to vindicate their rights using class-action lawsuits. In his writings, he supported making it more difficult to hold corporations accountable when they act illegally and harm the American people.
  • Robert Luck (Nominated to Eleventh Circuit), as a state court judge, made it harder for homeowners to defend themselves against banks that were improperly trying to foreclose on their homes by denying them the right to attorney’s fees. Luck also reversed a lower court’s decision that had denied a cellphone provider’s effort to force a consumer into arbitration. In another instance, Luck reinstated a verdict for a tobacco company in a wrongful death case after a lower court judge had found that a new trial was warranted.
  • Paul Matey (Third Circuit) published two articles with Neil Gorsuch arguing securities fraud class actions should be more difficult to bring. Additionally, when Matey was serving as a hospital’s senior vice president, a nationwide investigation grading hospital safety raised severe concerns about the hospital’s patient safety standards.
  • Steven Menashi (Nominated to Second Circuit) expressed strong negative opinions regarding attorneys who represent consumers. He attacked lawyers who advocate for the elderly: “there[s] a whole discipline of ‘elder law’ devoted to these tricks,” referring to efforts to ensure people who are eligible for Medicaid can receive the benefits to which they are entitled. He supported efforts to cap recovery for those injured as a result of medical malpractice and, as a lawyer, fought the ability of victims of negligence by drug companies to seek full accountability. He also opposed a D.C. Circuit decision upholding the FCC’s net neutrality rules.
  • Eric Miller (Ninth Circuit) criticized a court decision that held that manufacturers of complex surgical devices have a duty to warn hospitals that perform surgeries with those devices about their potential dangers. He supported making it harder for those wronged by corporations to band together in class actions. On behalf of the Chamber of Commerce, Miller filed an amicus brief arguing an out-of-state victim of deceptive debt collection practices should not have the ability to sue under Washington state law.
  • Eric Murphy (Sixth Circuit) fought to allow pharmaceutical companies to be able to sell drugs for uses that are not FDA approved. Murphy also fought victims seeking compensation from cigarette companies.
  • Mark Norris (Western District of Tennessee) championed legislation which limited the amount an injured plaintiff could recover for noneconomic damages and capped punitive damages in all civil cases while preventing punitive damages in most product liability actions. The act also prohibits lawsuits under the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) for securities fraud, prohibits consumer-class action lawsuits, and prohibits lawsuits filed under the TCPA by individuals.
  • Andrew Oldham (Fifth Circuit) has questioned the legitimacy of all federal regulations, which would include consumer protections.
  • Halil Ozerden (Nominated to Fifth Circuit) as a district court judge prevented a child’s mother from suing a football helmet manufacturer when the ninth grader became partially paralyzed after making a tackle in a football scrimmage while wearing the manufacturer’s helmet. The Fifth Circuit overturned Ozerden’s decision.
  • Michael Park (Second Circuit), on behalf of the Chamber of Commerce, fought FTC enforcement action against LabMD, a medical-testing laboratory, after the company’s inadequate data security practices allowed sensitive private medical and financial data for 9,300 patients to be exposed to millions of internet users and downloaded.
  • Marvin Quattlebaum Jr. (Fourth Circuit) defended Michelin against claims involving injury and death resulting from allegedly defective tires.
  • Chad Readler (Sixth Circuit) challenged the constitutionality of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Additionally, as an attorney for Big Tobacco, Readler fought health protections for consumers.
  • David Stras (Eighth Circuit) as state court judge sided with an insurance company over an injured child who had brought suit seeking to recover damages from a school bus accident.
  • Lawrence VanDyke (Nominated to Ninth Circuit) sued to invalidate the Dodd-Frank Act.
  • Don Willett (Fifth Circuit), while on the Texas Supreme Court, ruled for consumers in only 19 percent of cases he heard while on the court, making him the lowest scoring among the six Texas Supreme Court justices who were evaluated in a study. Moreover, in a 2016 report, the Center for American Progress found that Willett “voted for corporate defendants more than 70 percent of the time.”

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CRIMINAL JUSTICE
Trump judges and nominees who have fought constitutional protections and fairness in the criminal justice system

  • Campbell Barker (Eastern District of Texas) attempted to retry a person kept in prisons unconstitutionally for 32 years after his conviction was overturned. Barker also represented Texas in an attempt to execute an African-American defendant after a psychologist testified at trial that the defendant’s race made him statistically more likely to commit a violent crime.
  • Amy Coney Barrett (Seventh Circuit) criticized the retroactivity of sentencing guideline reforms.
  • Mark Bennett (Ninth Circuit) criticized the Hawaii Supreme Court for being too pro-defendant. Bennett also supported reviving “Walk and Talk” programs at airports, which permitted officers to “question and possibly search suspicious-looking passengers with their consent[,]” a practice that was declared unconstitutional by the Hawaii Supreme Court. He also supported a bill that would eliminate the legal requirement that police knock and announce themselves before breaking down a door.
  • Stephanos Bibas (Third Circuit) has advocated for compelling prisoners to join the military and other deeply troubling forms of criminal sanctions. He has minimized racial disparities in the criminal justice system and stated that drug addiction was not a disease but rather something that people could choose to overcome. Moreover, he has questioned the propriety of the Miranda doctrine and argued against robust habeas corpus protections. As a federal prosecutor, he brought charges against a cashier at a veterans’ hospital cafeteria for allegedly stealing $7, and he lost the case when the cashier was acquitted.
  • Michael Brennan (Seventh Circuit) questioned the Exclusionary Rule, which prevents evidence obtained in violation of a defendant’s constitutional rights from being admitted in court. Brennan also served as staff counsel to the committee that wrote and implemented Wisconsin’s harsh Truth-in-Sentencing law in 1998. Moreover, while Brennan was serving as a state trial court judge, the (Madison, Wisconsin) Capital Times noted that “Brennan was the judge who presided over one of the most blatant demonstrations of racial inequality in justice in Milwaukee County” in a case in which four young African-American men were heavily sentenced for a prank that involved letting the air out of vehicle tires.
  • Jeffrey Brown (Southern District of Texas) as a state court judge ruled that a prosecutor could comment in court about a criminal defendant’s silence in response to police questioning, holding it did not violate the right against self-incrimination. He also wrote an opinion allowing evidence found after an illegal police seizure to be introduced at a civil forfeiture proceeding.
  • Daniel Collins (Ninth Circuit) defended a controversial Department of Justice policy that required prosecutors to pursue the maximum charges and sentences against criminal defendants and minimized the ability of local U.S. attorneys to offer plea bargains for lesser sentences. He also advocated for eliminating Miranda warnings and questioned the wisdom of Batson v. Kentucky, the seminal case prohibiting racial discrimination in jury selection. Collins has filed amicus briefs defending police officers in an excessive force case and defended Chicago’s controversial loitering ordinance.
  • Kyle Duncan (Fifth Circuit) challenged the retroactive application of Miller v. Alabama, which held that mandatory life sentences without the possibility of parole were unconstitutional for juveniles. Duncan also defended inhumane conditions in prisons, arguing that severe overcrowding in jails did not violate the Eighth Amendment.
  • Allison Eid (Tenth Circuit), while on the Colorado Supreme Court, consistently ruled against the rights of criminal defendants and the accused. For example, she disagreed with the majority of the Colorado Supreme Court when it ruled to suppress evidence police officers obtained after brutally beating a man, breaking several bones in his face and hitting him repeatedly with a metal baton, when he said he didn’t want to answer the officers’ questions. She also argued Miller v. Alabama, which held that juvenile offenders could not be sentenced to life without the possibility of parole, should not have been applied retroactively.
  • Kurt Engelhardt (Fifth Circuit), while a district court judge, overturned the convictions of New Orleans police officers who had been convicted of shooting unarmed civilians on the Danziger Bridge, days after Hurricane Katrina, because Justice Department officials had anonymously posted online comments about the case. In contrast, in Truvia v. Julian, Engelhardt dismissed a civil rights lawsuit brought against the Orleans Parish District Attorney despite the DA’s Office’s repeated failure, over decades, to turn over possibly exculpatory evidence to those accused of a crime (as required by the Supreme Court in United States v. Brady) in a case involving two men who had been wrongfully incarcerated for 27 years.
  • Neil Gorsuch (Supreme Court), while on the Tenth Circuit, consistently enabled constitutionally problematic convictions to stand. He held that a police officer was entitled to qualified immunity from an excessive force claim arising from his use of a stun gun that killed a young man. He also held that officers had not used excessive force against a Vietnam War veteran who was suicidal when they burst into his hotel room unannounced with guns drawn and ended up shooting him. He has displayed disregard for the rights of people who are incarcerated by restricting inmates’ ability to join together as a class to vindicate their rights.
  • Britt Grant (Eleventh Circuit) defended purposeful racial discrimination in jury selection.
  • Gregory Katsas (D.C. Circuit) spoke approvingly of Justice Clarence Thomas’s dissent in Dawson v. Delaware, where Thomas was the sole dissenter from an opinion that barred the state from introducing bad-character evidence at trial that had no relevance to the case; Thomas’s dissent in Hudson v. McMillan, where the Court held that prison guards using excessive force against prisoners constitutes cruel and unusual punishment; and Thomas’s dissent in Foucha v. Louisiana, where the Court held that a person found not guilty by reason of insanity cannot be held indefinitely on the grounds of “potential dangerousness” once no mental illness is present.
  • Brett Kavanaugh (Supreme Court), while on the D.C. Circuit, ruled for the police in a case of stop-and-frisk, when police officers stopped an African-American man who vaguely matched the description of an armed robber, searched him without his consent and discovered a weapon. When the case was reheard later by the full D.C. Circuit, Kavanaugh’s ruling was overturned. Kavanaugh also spoke favorably about former Chief Justice William Rehnquist’s narrow view of the exclusionary rule.
  • Eric Murphy (Sixth Circuit) ridiculed Justice Sotomayor’s dissent in Utah v. Strieff, 136 S.Ct. 2056 (2016) a Fourth Amendment case that allows evidence gleaned from unlawful searches to be introduced in court if the officer finds an outstanding arrest warrant. Sotomayor’s dissent discussed the decision’s likely effect on racial profiling and cited studies on racial equality. Murphy criticized the dissent’s focus on racial justice.
  • Mark Norris (Western District of Tennessee), claimed that feeding prisoners three meals a day was “wasting” nearly a million dollars per year. Norris claims responsibility for changing the law so that “it’s cooked dried beans for prisoners and a million dollars for you!”
  • Halil Ozerden (Nominated to Fifth Circuit), as a district court judge, imposed unexplained and irrelevant special conditions of drug and alcohol testing and treatment for a defendant’s supervised release, conditions which were overturned on appeal. He also prevented a victim from bringing most of his claims to trial after a prison guard allegedly sexually assaulted him and his cellmate. In another case, he held that a police officer who fired six shots and killed a man fleeing on an ATV was entitled to qualified immunity protecting him from legal action.
  • William McCrary Ray II (Northern District of Georgia) opposed a bill that would have “prohibit[ed] police from using race or ethnicity as the basis for a traffic stop.” He opposed a hate crime bill that would have authorized longer sentences and stiffer fines for people convicted of committing “an offense because of bias or prejudice.”
  • Neomi Rao (D.C. Circuit) proposed limiting constitutional protections for criminal defendants. Discussing Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966), Rao explained her view that “Miranda exemplifies the recurring problem in criminal cases – promoting the dignity of the accused may greatly discount the dignity of the victims of crime.”
  • Lee Rudofsky (Nominated to Eastern District of Arkansas) joined prison payphone providers in challenging a Federal Communications Commission rule capping rates on phone calls from prisons, which can reach as high as $10 per minute. He also filed two briefs arguing that minors sentenced to life imprisonment without possibility of parole as juveniles should continue to serve for life without eligibility for parole, despite precedent and state law that suggested otherwise.
  • Amy St. Eve (Seventh Circuit), while a district court judge, dismissed claims in which an incarcerated individual brought an action alleging that a county jail had subjected him to inhumane working and living conditions, including “inadequate food … and contaminated water.”
  • David Stras (Eighth Circuit) as a state court judge dissented in a case that held that trial judges had the ability in a rape case to allow expert testimony that contradicted the defendant’s claim of consensual sex.
  • Amul Thapar (Sixth Circuit), while a district court judge, dismissed a case involving a pretrial detainee who died when the jail’s nurse, who knew about his illness, did not provide him with diabetic medication or emergency room care. Thapar’s ruling was overturned on appeal. He also ruled that federal courts cannot reduce a person’s sentence for time already served in a state prison, if the person has served that time while waiting for sentencing on the same charges. His ruling would have extended and maximized prison time for incarcerated people. The Supreme Court, in an opinion written by the late Justice Antonin Scalia, disagreed, and Thapar’s decision was vacated.
  • Michael Truncale (Eastern District of Texas) warned that, if Trump lost, “Liberals/progressives will also attempt to create new ‘rights’ on everything from receiving welfare payments to a prohibition on racial disparities in criminal justice outcomes.”
  • Wendy Vitter (Eastern District of Louisiana) faced scrutiny over her time as a prosecutor because the department she worked in, and had a leadership position in, was marred by serious allegations of prosecutorial misconduct. These violations centered on what the Supreme Court later classified as “blatant and repeated” violations of the Brady disclosure rule.
  • Don Willett (Fifth Circuit) wrote a paper accusing the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals of having a “pro-defendant tilt.” Willett ridiculed criminal defendants and believed that the Court of Criminal Appeals “concocts silly ways to reverse their convictions” and “breathes in technicalities as if they were air.”

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DEATH PENALTY
Trump judges and nominees who have fought for the death penalty

  • Andrew Brasher (Middle District of Alabama) repeatedly defended death sentences that were struck down by the courts, including Florida’s unconstitutional law that allowed judges to overrule juries and impose the death penalty. He sought the death penalty for a defendant with mental illness despite the state’s failure to provide sufficient access to a competent psychiatrist as required under federal law, and also advocated for the position that children can be sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole.
  • Liles Burke (Northern District of Alabama), as a state court judge, consistently voted to affirm the imposition of the death penalty, even in cases tainted by racial discrimination and cases involving defendants with intellectual disabilities.
  • Britt Grant (Eleventh Circuit) supported Oklahoma’s problematic execution method.
  • Steven Grasz (Eighth Circuit) vigorously advocated for the death penalty in Nebraska, serving as assistant secretary for Nebraskans for the Death Penalty and for Nebraskans for Capital Punishment. After Nebraska abolished the death penalty in 2015, Grasz represented Nebraskans for the Death Penalty before the Nebraska Supreme Court in a case that led to reinstatement of capital punishment in the state.
  • James Ho (Fifth Circuit) fought to maintain the death penalty in Texas, including defending Texas’s lethal injection protocol.
  • Kevin Newsom (Eleventh District) defended questionable death penalty practices as the Solicitor General of Alabama. The Supreme Court unanimously rejected his attempt to prevent an inmate from being able to challenge the constitutionality of Alabama’s proposed execution procedure, which would require cutting through muscle and skin to find a vein. Newsom has also filed several amicus briefs in death penalty cases on behalf of the state, including arguing that the execution of minors does not violate the Constitution.
  • Chad Readler (Sixth Circuit), in an article titled, “Make Death Penalty for Youth Available Widely,” advocated for subjecting children to the death penalty.
  • Lee Rudofsky (Nominated to Eastern District of Arkansas) filed at least 12 briefs in a single year before the Supreme Court to oppose stays of execution for Arkansas inmates facing the death penalty.
  • Allen Winsor (Northern District of Florida) defended Florida’s capital sentencing system, where a judge, rather than a jury, made the critical findings necessary to impose the death penalty. Winsor also defended a Florida law that required defendants to show an IQ test score of 70 or below before they were allowed to submit additional evidence of an intellectual disability, a law that the Supreme Court said “creates an unacceptable risk that persons with intellectual disability [sic] will be executed.”
  • Patrick Wyrick (Western District of Oklahoma) defended Oklahoma’s death penalty protocol before the Supreme Court. The lethal injection procedure, described by Justice Sotomayor as “like being burned alive,” reportedly took over 40 excruciating minutes to kill one death row inmate. While the Court eventually ruled in a 5-4 decision that the state’s protocol was constitutional, Oklahoma and its attorneys, including Wyrick, came under fire from the Supreme Court for misstating the facts.

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EDUCATION
Trump judges and nominees who have fought equal access to quality public education

  • Mark Bennett (Ninth Circuit) fought substitute teachers’ rights to adequate pay.
  • Andrew Brasher (Middle District of Alabama) defended an Alabama law retaliating against the Alabama Education Association by restricting its members’ ability to pay dues to the association unless it stopped engaging in any political activity.
  • Michael Brennan (Seventh Circuit) wrote a letter highlighting his efforts in support of school choice in Wisconsin, and specifically his efforts to “protect choice schools from overburdensome government regulations.”
  • Daniel Bress (Ninth Circuit) litigated, pro bono, a case to convert a public elementary school to a charter school in Anaheim County, California.
  • John Bush (Sixth Circuit) opposed women being admitted into the Virginia Military Academy (VMI). He wrote that the military-style education of VMI “does not appear to be compatible with the somewhat different developmental needs of most young women.” The Supreme Court disagreed.
  • Allison Eid (Tenth Circuit) supported using taxpayer-funded school vouchers for religious schools. She also dissented in a case where the Colorado Supreme Court upheld voters’ decision to better fund public education, and supported efforts to undermine collective bargaining rights of teachers.
  • Kurt Engelhardt (Fifth Circuit), while a district court judge, was actively involved in efforts to end desegregation initiatives in Jefferson Parish Schools, efforts that were intended to address historical inequalities and remnants of formal segregation.
  • Gordon Giampietro (Nominated to Eastern District of Wisconsin; Withdrawn) said, “I grew up next to lawyers, architects and crack dealers…The common denominator I saw was that the children who succeeded in Washington[, D.C.] were in private schools, and the children who turned out to be criminals were in public schools.” He fought for school choice in Wisconsin and wrote that he is proud of his work to protect school choice from “overburdensome government regulations.”
  • Neil Gorsuch (Supreme Court), while on the Tenth Circuit, ruled to weaken the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
  • Steven Menashi (Nominated to Second Circuit) has been Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s right-hand man at the Department in eroding protections for students of color, sexual assault survivors, and victims of fraudulent for-profit colleges. He opposed need-based financial aid because it purportedly hurts the wealthy. He compared universities’ collection of race data in college admissions to Germany under Adolf Hitler. He supports school vouchers on the grounds that it “restore[s] taxpayers’ property rights” and has attacked teachers’ unions.
  • Eric Murphy (Sixth Circuit) defended school vouchers for private religious schools.
  • Kevin Newsom (Eleventh Circuit) argued that a high school girls’ basketball coach, who was fired for complaining that the school treated the girls’ team worse than the boys’ team, could not bring a lawsuit for retaliation under Title IX. The Supreme Court disagreed and ruled in favor of the basketball coach.
  • Howard Nielson (District of Utah) fought to end affirmative action at state universities.
  • Mark Norris (Western District of Tennessee) was instrumental in weakening Memphis schools, attended largely by African-American children.
  • William McCrary Ray II (Northern District of Georgia) supported a bill to end affirmative action programs.
  • Chad Readler (Sixth Circuit) attacked public schools in Ohio. Readler pushed to eliminate a provision of Ohio’s Constitution that provides students with the right to a “thorough and efficient” education. The former president of the Ohio School Boards Association noted that eliminating this provision of the Ohio Constitution would mean there would be no right to public education in Ohio. Readler also fought efforts to better regulate charter schools. He supported the efforts of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to protect fraudulent for-profit schools.
  • Lee Rudofsky (Nominated to Eastern District of Arkansas) represented the Arkansas Department of Education in a suit brought by parents and community members of Little Rock, alleging that the department implemented a variety of policies that furthered racial discrimination in Little Rock schools. He also supported George W. Bush’s platform on school vouchers and privatization.
  • Damien Schiff (Nominated to Court of Federal Claims; Withdrawn) sued to prevent Title IX from being applied to high school students. If he had been successful, millions of girls across the country would have had far fewer educational opportunities. His lawsuit was dismissed.
  • Brantley Starr (Northern District of Texas) supported Texas’s efforts to combat alleged “censorship” of groups like neo-Nazis and other hate groups on college campuses following an uptick in hate groups targeting college campuses for recruitment.
  • Michael Truncale (Eastern District of Texas) called for the abolition of the Department of Education, saying, “I don’t recall one single thing that was of any benefit to a single college student in Texas that came from the Department of Education.”
  • Lawrence VanDyke (Nominated to Ninth Circuit) defended the Nevada’s school voucher program, which allowed parents to use taxpayer money to pay for their children’s private school tuition.
  • Justin Walker (Western District of Kentucky) bemoaned the “billions of taxpayer dollars” spent on maintaining “a minimum level of funding to offer an adequate education for all students.” He criticized the right to quality public education found in many state constitutions, complaining that this right infringes upon the liberty of “the minority of individuals who pay the majority of income taxes.”
  • Don Willett (Fifth Circuit) opposed affirmative action and argued that the “vast majority of minorities are not held back by racial bigotry, but by fractured families and poor K-12 schools that deny them the credentials required to enter elite social institutions.”

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ENVIRONMENT
Trump judges and nominees who have fought environmental protections

  • Campbell Barker (Eastern District of Texas) sought to enjoin the Clean Power Plan, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-issued policies that limited the dumping of unlimited amounts of carbon into the atmosphere and that sought to curb global warming.
  • Andrew Brasher (Middle District of Alabama) gave two speeches criticizing the Clean Water Rule and served as the lead attorney for Alabama in attempting to block the rule. Brasher has also attacked protections for endangered species.
  • Joel Carson III (Tenth Circuit) has written that the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment is implicated when endangered animals are reintroduced into the wild and prey on privately owned livestock. In addition to Carson’s expansive arguments as to what constitutes a regulatory taking, he advocated against environmental regulations on behalf of corporate oil and gas interests.
  • Daniel Collins (Ninth Circuit) defended the oil company Shell in several cases, including a global warming case brought by the City of Oakland, a case brought by victims of Hurricane Katrina, and a suit brought by a Native Alaskan village alleging that oil companies’ contributions to global warming threatened the village’s very existence.
  • Allison Eid (Tenth Circuit) praised the Supreme Court’s decision that struck down the EPA’s migratory bird rule. On the Colorado Supreme Court, she held that a public hearing regarding the issuance of a permit to drill wells near a contaminated nuclear blast site was not necessary. She would have allowed a private company to use eminent domain to build a petroleum pipeline, while making it harder for communities to build parks.
  • Ralph R. Erickson (Eighth Circuit), as a district court judge, enjoined the Obama Administration’s Clean Water Rule.
  • Neil Gorsuch (Supreme Court), while on the Tenth Circuit, frequently turned away challenges by environmental groups seeking to protect natural resources and public land. Moreover, he has been skeptical of rules promulgated by environmental agencies designed to increase oversight of large corporations.
  • Britt Grant (Eleventh Circuit) has challenged designations under the Endangered Species Act.
  • Brett Kavanaugh (Supreme Court), while on the D.C. Circuit, consistently overturned protections for clean air, routinely putting corporate interests over safeguards for the health of families and the environment. For example, Kavanaugh rejected an EPA rule requiring that upwind states bear responsibility for their fair share of pollution they cause in downwind states, and was overturned by the Supreme Court. He also sided against the EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases. Kavanaugh also supported disgraced ex-EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and the Trump Administration in Clean Air Council v. Pruitt.
  • Steven Menashi (Nominated to Second Circuit) has opposed the Kyoto Accord and wants to constrain the ability of the EPA to enforce the Clean Air Act.
  • Eric Murphy (Sixth Circuit) argued on behalf of states challenging the Clean Water Rule. Murphy also fought the Clean Power Plan. During Murphy’s tenure as state solicitor, Ohio joined a multi-state brief that sought to weaken the Endangered Species Act.
  • Ryan Nelson (Ninth Circuit) served as Deputy Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Department of Justice, signing on to briefs for the government that hurt the environment.
  • Howard Nielson (District of Utah) represented Republicans in Congress in opposing EPA regulations in Air Regulatory Group v. EPA, 134 S.Ct. 2427 (2014).
  • Andrew Oldham (Fifth Circuit) questioned the legality of the entire EPA. He helped Texas sue to block the EPA from limiting pollution and enforcing the Clean Air Act.
  • Michael Park (Second Circuit) challenged the Clean Water Rule, which expanded protection for two million miles of streams and 20 million acres of wetlands.
  • David Porter (Third Circuit) represented the Republican caucuses of Pennsylvania’s General Assembly in a lawsuit defending the constitutionality of a 2009 anti-environment bill that vastly expanded the amount of state forest land eligible for gas extraction.
  • Neomi Rao (D.C. Circuit) authored several articles expressing her disdain for environmentalism and her rejection of mainstream scientific theories. She wrote derisively of “[t]he three major environmental bogeymen, the greenhouse effect, the depleting ozone layer, and the dangers of acid rain.” She criticized environmental groups at Yale for “accept[ing] issues such as global warming as truth with no reference to the prevailing scientific doubts.” Rao also bashed environmental groups for “promot[ing] a dangerous orthodoxy that includes the unquestioning acceptance of controversial theories like the greenhouse effect.”
  • Lee Rudofsky (Nominated to Eastern District of Arkansas) publicly supported Scott Pruitt as “the right person at the right time to lead the EPA.” He also led the state of Arkansas in challenging the Clean Power Plan (CPP) and criticized its efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Rudofsky supported the Trump Administration’s delay in implementing the Chemical Disaster Rule, arguing that the required safety measures would put financial burdens on corporate polluters. He also defended big oil corporations’ interests in challenging the Obama-era “stream protection rule,” and provided arguments against efforts to make coal mining more environmentally sound. He represented Arkansas in opposing the National Ambient Air Quality Standard for Ozone, as well as emissions standards for toxic air pollutants from power plants under the Clean Air Act. Additionally, during his time in private practice, Rudofsky was a member of the legal team representing British Petroleum (BP) following the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe, and as solicitor general of Arkansas, Rudofsky’s office opposed the Endangered Species Act’s (“ESA”) critical habitat designation.
  • Damien Schiff (Nominated to Court of Federal Claims; Withdrawn) has fought environmental protections, argued the Endangered Species Act was unconstitutional, said the EPA treats citizens as “slaves” and even argued that Earth Day was a threat to liberty.
  • Stephen Schwartz (Court of Federal Claims) repeatedly litigated cases challenging environmental protections. Most notably, he defended BP after the Deepwater Horizon explosion. Schwartz worked as co-counsel for the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union challenging Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) regulations for motor fuel used in California.
  • Brantley Starr (Northern District of Texas) represented Texas in bringing an injunction to block the implementation of the Clean Water Rule.
  • Brett Talley (Nominated to Middle District of Alabama; Withdrawn) wrote that the EPA became a “lawless organ” during the Obama administration, and that “while Pruitt’s enemies would never admit it, in the long run his confirmation would be good for the environment.”
  • Lawrence VanDyke (Nominated to Ninth Circuit) filed an amicus brief challenging the Clean Power Plan. As Solicitor General of Nevada, he fought environmental protections aimed at curtailing pollution from mining into streams and waterways. He joined a lawsuit that sought to invalidate the Obama Administration’s expansion of the Clean Water Act. He also joined with three mining companies to oppose land use restrictions issued by the Department of the Interior. As Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Environmental and Natural Resources Division of the Department of Justice, VanDyke has defended the Trump administration against several lawsuits brought as a result of the administration’s efforts to tear down environmental regulations.
  • Allen Winsor (Northern District of Florida) sued the EPA to stop the Clean Power Plan.
  • Justin Walker (Western District of Kentucky) called for reinvigorating the non-delegation doctrine, a position that would deprive Congress of the authority to empower agencies, including the EPA, to effectively implement and enforce statutes.
  • Patrick Wyrick (Western District of Oklahoma) is a protégé of disgraced former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. While working as the Solicitor General for the State of Oklahoma, Wyrick assisted Pruitt in dismantling environmental protections and was part of exchanges between Pruitt and energy lobbyists.

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EXECUTIVE POWER AND CIVIL LIBERTIES
Trump judges and nominees who have expansive views of unchecked executive power and have fought protections for civil liberties

  • Amy Coney Barrett (Seventh Circuit) authored an article criticizing the Supreme Court’s decision in Boumediene v. Bush, which held that foreign citizens detained at Guantanamo Bay could file habeas corpus petitions in federal court challenging their detention.
  • Joseph Bianco (Second Circuit) defended the Patriot Act and raised concerns about trying terror suspects in Article III courts. As a district court judge he ruled that it was permissible for police to stop and detain someone after following him one mile from the home they had a warrant to search, a decision later reversed by the Supreme Court.
  • Michael Brennan (Seventh Circuit) objected to the notion that Yaser Hamdi, an enemy combatant detained indefinitely, “should enjoy the constitutional protection of habeas corpus.”
  • John Bush (Sixth Circuit) represented President Ronald Reagan during the Iran-Contra investigation and coauthored the response to the independent counsel’s final report in the Iran-Contra Affair.
  • Daniel Collins (Ninth Circuit) was actively involved in drafting portions of, implementing, and defending the Patriot Act while serving as associate deputy attorney general under George W. Bush. Collins supported the controversial “bulk collection” and “sneak and peek” provisions, which are criticized for eroding privacy rights. He also supported the Bush administration in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, and opposed extending protections outlined by the Geneva Conventions to combatants whose affiliated groups did not sign on to international human rights treaties.
  • Neil Gorsuch (Supreme Court) upheld President Trump’s discriminatory Muslim Ban.
  • James Ho (Fifth Circuit) authored a memo that was cited in the infamous Bybee-Yoo “Torture Memo” that, according to The Washington Post, paved the way for waterboarding of terrorism suspects and other harsh interrogation tactics[.]” Ho’s memo was cited as evidence that Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions “contains somewhat similar language” that distinguishes torture from other types of “cruel treatment” toward prisoners. In a law review article, Ho argued that the status of al Qaeda detainees does not reach the status of lawful combatants, and that they are therefore not afforded protections under the Geneva Conventions and other protections under international law for prisoners of war.
  • Gregory Katsas (D.C. Circuit) argued that federal courts lacked the jurisdiction to hear habeas petitions from foreign nationals held at Guantanamo Bay. Katsas defended the constitutionality of the detention of a prisoner under the Military Commissions Act, which the government posited was an adequate substitute for the traditional habeas right. When asked whether waterboarding was torture during a confirmation hearing, Katsas refused to answer.
  • Brett Kavanaugh (Supreme Court) argued that “criminal investigations and prosecutions of the President” should be deferred while he is in office. In 1998, he wrote that “Congress should give back to the President the full power to act when he believes that a particular independent counsel is ‘out to get him.’” Kavanaugh proposed that Congress also adopt a statute “to establish that a sitting President cannot be indicted.” In 1999, Kavanaugh also participated in a roundtable discussion where he questioned the Supreme Court’s decision in S. v. Nixon. While on the D.C. Circuit, when the court considered a challenge to the government’s bulk collection of phone metadata, Kavanaugh wrote separately to express his agreement with the government. Kavanaugh has also taken an aggressive stance on the authority of military commissions.
  • Joan Larsen (Sixth Circuit) worked for the Office of Legal Counsel when several opinions were issued authorizing “torture, indefinite detention, warrantless wiretapping, and other abuses of power.” She coauthored an undisclosed memo in March 2002 regarding the habeas corpus rights of detained prisoners. In a 2006 op-ed in The Detroit News, Larsen praised President George W. Bush’s signing statement limiting the application of the McCain Amendment, which outlawed the use of torture against persons in the custody of the United States.
  • Trevor McFadden (District Court for D.C.) had troubling statements and positions regarding inhumane treatment of inmates.
  • Steven Menashi (Nominated to Second Circuit) favorably repeated the Islamophobic myth that General Pershing executed Muslim prisoners with bullets dipped in pig’s fat. He also praised Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, writing that he had “noble aims” and dismissed criticized that Pinochet utilized “excessive violence.” He criticized opponents of the 2003 war in Iraq as “pro-Saddam activists” who were “totally unprincipled,” “thoroughly contemptible,” and were protesting “on behalf of despotism.” He defended the treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, stating that they were “reportedly well fed and clothed.”
  • Eric Miller (Ninth Circuit) worked for the Office of Legal Counsel when several opinions were issued authorizing “torture, indefinite detention, warrantless wiretapping, and other abuses of power.” Miller joined government briefs defending the constitutionality of depriving detainees at Guantanamo Bay access to habeas corpus, defending the government’s authority to detain and hold an individual in potentially indefinite military detention, and defending the government’s decisions to withhold information on detainees under the Freedom of Information Act and to close immigration deportation hearings to the public.
  • Ryan Nelson (Ninth Circuit) appears on a “list of selected members” on an amicus brief filed by the Citizens for the Common Defense in 2004 in the case Al Odah v. United States. In its brief, the organization describes itself as “an association that advocates a conception of robust Executive Branch authority to meet the national security threats that confront the nation in its war against international terrorists[,]” and emphasizes that “vigorous executive power necessary to defend our nation against foreign enemies was seen by the Framers as a vital precondition to securing those blessings and an integral part of the same libertarian enterprise.”
  • Howard Nielson (District of Utah) served as Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Office of Legal Counsel from 2003 to 2005. During that time, Nielson’s boss, Stephen Bradbury, authored the “torture memos,” which provided the legal justifications for 13 types of enhanced interrogation techniques employed by the CIA, including waterboarding. Nielson wrote a letter to the editor of The Washington Post in 2007 defending Bradbury. He also authored a memorandum titled “Whether Persons Captured and Detained in Afghanistan are ‘Protected Persons’ under the Fourth Geneva Convention,” in which he furthered a legal theory that would truncate most protections of the international treaty.
  • Neomi Rao (D.C. Circuit) is a proponent of the “unitary executive” theory. She has advocated vigorously for the President to obtain complete control of the executive branch – most notably independent agencies – where Congress has specifically enacted legislation to insulate agencies and agency officers from political influence.
  • Michael Scudder (Seventh Circuit) was reportedly deeply involved in structuring the post-9/11 prosecution of alleged terrorists by military commissions under George W. Bush.
  • Justin Walker (Western District of Kentucky), after President Trump fired James Comey for investigating Trump campaign ties to Russia, argued that the FBI should not be independent of the president.

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CHURCH AND STATE
Trump judges and nominees who have fought to erode separation of  church and state

  • Allison Eid (Tenth Circuit), while on the Colorado Supreme Court, supported the use of taxpayer dollars to pay for vouchers to private religious schools. Eid also advocated for exempting religiously-affiliated retirement homes from paying taxes.
  • Ralph Erickson (Eighth Circuit), as a district court judge, ruled against plaintiffs who argued that the display and taxpayer-funded upkeep of a monument of the Ten Commandments on city property violated the Establishment Clause.
  • Neil Gorsuch (Supreme Court), while on the Tenth Circuit, in cases like Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. v. Sebelius and Little Sisters of the Poor v. Burwell, took an expansive view of the religious liberty of persons and corporations, even when those religious beliefs curtail the rights of other Americans. He was extremely permissive in permitting religiously oriented public displays and installations. He repeatedly criticized the “reasonable observer” test for Establishment Clause cases as too likely to find impermissible endorsements of religion by the government.
  • Steven Grasz (Eighth Circuit), while serving in the Nebraska Department of Justice, petitioned the Nebraska State Board of Education to teach evolution as a theory and not “objective fact.” Grasz argued that teaching evolution as fact could interfere with religious rights. Grasz has advocated for religion-specific, student-led prayers before school baccalaureate ceremonies and sports events.
  • Steven Menashi (Nominated to Second Circuit) called the president of People for the American Way “hysterical” because of his opposition to state funding of religious schools.
  • Allison Rushing (Fourth Circuit) coauthored an article with Alliance Defending Freedom’s Senior Counsel Jordan Lorence, titled “Nothing to Stand On: ‘Offended Observers’” and the Ten Commandments. The Rushing-Lorence article criticizes and demeans those who seek to enforce the Establishment Clause.
  • Lawrence VanDyke (Nominated to Ninth Circuit) argued it was constitutional to teach creationism in public schools.
  • Don Willett (Fifth Circuit), while working in then-President George W. Bush’s administration, was the Director of Law & Policy for the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. Willett laments that prior to the Bush administration, government officials “routinely tilted the playing field against religious groups . . . [b]ecause they stubbornly misperceive the requirements of the First Amendment and have failed to bring their stale policies in line with recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings that have cooled church-state hostility by supplanting rigid separationism with what the Church has called ‘guarantee of neutrality.’” Overall, Willett believes that “[t]he American people, for their part, want religion in the public square.”

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FREEDOM OF THE PRESS
Trump judges and nominees who have narrow views of freedom of the press

  • John Bush (Sixth Circuit) argued that New York Times v. Sullivan was wrongly decided.
  • Ryan Nelson (Ninth Circuit) represented Melaleuca’s CEO Frank VanderSlootin a defamation suit against Mother Jones

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GUN SAFETY
Trump judges and nominees who have fought gun safety measures

  • Allison Eid (Tenth Circuit), while on the Colorado Supreme Court, argued that Denver could not ban ownership of assault weapons. Eid also authored the Colorado Supreme Court’s opinion striking down the University of Colorado’s handgun ban.
  • Britt Grant (Eleventh Circuit) argued that a city ordinance prohibiting possession of AR-15 style weapons or large-capacity magazines violated the Second Amendment.
  • Brett Kavanaugh (Supreme Court), while on the D.C. Circuit, voted to invalidate D.C.’s ban on assault weapons.
  • Howard Nielson (District of Utah) has repeatedly represented the NRA in attempts to overturn firearm regulations. These suits include a case where Nielson argued that bans on 18-20-year-olds publicly carrying firearms are unconstitutional; a case challenging bans on handgun purchases to people under the age of 21; and a case where Nielson fought Chicago’s ban on semiautomatic rifles and large capacity magazines. In each one of these cases, the laws were upheld. At the Department of Justice, contrary to the overwhelming weight of authority, before the Supreme Court considered the question in District of Columbia v. Heller, Nielson authored a 2004 memorandum concluding that the Second Amendment secured an individual right to bear arms.
  • Andrew Oldham (Fifth Circuit) defended Texas laws that provide expansive rights for gun owners. He filed an amicus brief arguing that a San Diego law that required people to show “good cause” to carry a concealed weapon in public was unconstitutional. He criticized a Highland Park, Illinois ban on AR-15 assault weapons.
  • William McCrary Ray II (Northern District of Georgia) opposed a measure designed to ensure child safety. The bill would have made it a misdemeanor “to negligently leave a handgun in the reach of children.”
  • Chad Readler (Sixth Circuit) submitted a brief supporting the Trump Administration’s policy to allow private companies to produce untraceable guns produced by 3D printers. In the brief, Readler recognized that his position would “make it significantly easier to produce undetectable, untraceable weapons, pos[e] unique threats to the health and safety of the States’ residents and employees, and compromis[e] the States’ ability to enforce their laws and keep their residents and visitors safe.”
  • Brantley Starr (Northern District of Texas) defended Texas’s expansive concealed carry law. He also defended Texas’s lawsuit against a county for posting signs that banned firearms in its multipurpose courthouse.
  • Brett Talley (Nominated to Middle District of Alabama; Withdrawn) wrote that “2012 was a bad year for those who value the time-honored right to bear arms. Between the fatal shootings in Aurura, [sic] CO and Newtown, CN [sic]—with several others spread throughout—it seems that the forces of gun control may finally pass new legislation designed to restrict gun ownership.” He also wrote: “Fortunately, there is a group dedicated to the protection of our Second Amendment Rights—the National Rifle Association. Today I pledge my support to the NRA; financially, politically, and intellectually. I ask you to do the same. Join the NRA. They stand for all of us now, and I pray that in the coming battle for our rights, they will be victorious.” He is also an advocate of arming teachers.
  • Lawrence VanDyke (Nominated to Ninth Circuit) opposed age limits for firearms and joined a case of questionable legal worth to side with the NRA. He also defended a law that took the position that the federal government could not regulate guns that were manufactured and sold in Montana despite admitting that he had “trouble coming up with any plausible (much less good) arguments of how to get around [existing Supreme Court precedent].”
  • Allen Winsor (Northern District of Florida) defended a law that prohibited doctors from discussing gun safety with patients. In February 2017, the Eleventh Circuit struck down the law.
  • Patrick Wyrick (Western District of Oklahoma), as solicitor general, signed an Attorney General Opinion allowing Oklahoma residents to carry concealed or unconcealed handguns if they hold a valid license issued in another state.

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IMMIGRATION
Trump judges and nominees who have fought protections for immigrants

  • Campbell Barker (Eastern District of Texas) has fought to end legal protections for Dreamers, under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and the parents of Dreamers, under Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA). He also supported Trump’s discriminatory Muslim Ban and Texas’s attempts to punish cities for refusing to discriminate against their citizens in policing.
  • Kyle Duncan (Fifth Circuit) fought against DAPA and DACA. He also participated as counsel for amicus curiae in Padilla v. Kentucky, 130 S.Ct. 1473 (2010) where he argued against basic civil rights for immigrants and their right to receive informed and adequate counsel regarding the consequences of a plea deal.
  • Neil Gorsuch (Supreme Court), while on the Supreme Court, upheld President Trump’s discriminatory Muslim Ban. On the Tenth Circuit, he upheld decisions detrimental to immigrants.
  • Britt Grant (Eleventh Circuit) worked on amicus briefs opposing DACA and DAPA.
  • Brett Kavanaugh (Supreme Court), while on the D.C. Circuit, held that a 16-year-old immigrant who was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) did not have the right to an abortion – even after completing statutory requirements. Kavanaugh also sided with a corporation in Agri Processor Co. v. NLRB, 514 F.3d 1 (2008) arguing that undocumented immigrant workers could not be counted as employees for union organizing purposes since they were not “employees” under labor law.
  • Steven Menashi (Nominated to Second Circuit), working in the Trump White House, was a member of the Stephen Miller-led Immigration Strategic Working Group and worked to advance President Trump’s immigration policy.
  • Eric Murphy (Sixth Circuit) signed an amicus brief challenging federal funding to so-called “sanctuary” jurisdictions, Murphy was co-counsel on a brief opposing DAPA and supported Trump’s discriminatory Muslim Ban.
  • Mark Norris (Western District of Tennessee) tried to block refugees settling in Tennessee, used xenophobic and anti-Muslim advertisements to campaign against refugee resettlement, advocated for English-only driver’s tests to exclude immigrants from driving, and introduced a bill to add years to a criminal sentence if the defendant was an unauthorized immigrant at the time of the offense.
  • Andrew Oldham (Fifth Circuit) was the architect of Texas’s legal strategy to halt DACA and DAPA.
  • Halil Ozerden (Nominated to Fifth Circuit), as a district court judge, ruled against eight immigrant women who were sexually assaulted while detained in United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody.
  • Michael Park (Second Circuit) on behalf of the Project on Fair Representation, is defending the Trump Administration’s effort to insert a citizenship question into the 2020 census.
  • Chad Readler (Sixth Circuit), as the former acting head of the Civil Division at the Department of Justice, was a chief legal defender of President Trump’s assault on immigrants. Readler defended the policy of separating immigrant children from their parents at the border. Readler also defended the decision to detain immigrant children for an indefinite amount of time. Additionally, he defended Trump’s Muslim Ban, supported ending DACA, and threatened to cut federal funding for local jurisdictions that were so-called “sanctuary” jurisdictions.
  • Lee Rudofsky (Nominated to Eastern District of Arkansas) was part of the Attorney General of Arkansas’s team that signed on to briefs opposing protections for immigrants, including in U.S. v. Texas, which involved the expansion of the DACA program and the Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) program. He also signed an amicus brief in County of Santa Clara v. Trump, supporting Trump’s attacks on immigrants by specifically preventing local governments from protecting immigrant communities.
  • Brantley Starr (Northern District of Texas) defended President Trump’s Muslim Ban, claiming it “was a facially neutral order” that “did not discriminate.” He also fought to eliminate protections for Dreamers, arguing in Texas v. United States that DACA was unconstitutional. Starr defended a law that would have “allow[ed] local law enforcement to ask legally detained people about their immigration status and punish law enforcement officials if they don’t cooperate with federal  requests to hold undocumented immigrants they detain— whether or not they actually committed a crime.” And he strongly supported criminalizing undocumented immigration under state laws.
  • Michael Truncale (Eastern District of Texas), fearmongering about the Mexican border, said, “We have all sort of bad influences coming in. We have drugs. We have illegal gangs. There is the possibility of bombs.”
  • Lawrence VanDyke (Nominated to Ninth Circuit) opposed the expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). He also supported President Trump’s efforts to withhold federal funding from jurisdictions that limit cooperation with federal immigration detainer requests (so called “sanctuary cities”).
  • Wendy Vitter (Eastern District of Louisiana) opposed the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the United States.

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MONEY IN POLITICS
Trump judges and nominees who have fought limits on campaign contributions or expenditures

  • John Bush (Sixth Circuit) wrote an amicus brief on behalf of Mitch McConnell arguing that several provisions of Kentucky’s campaign finance law were unconstitutional.
  • Allison Eid (Tenth Circuit), while on the Colorado Supreme Court, dissented from a decision that held that the Colorado Secretary of State did not have the authority to raise campaign finance reporting limits for issue committees, groups whose purpose is to support or oppose a ballot question.
  • Thomas Farr (Nominated to Eastern District of North Carolina; Withdrawn) represented a Republican candidate for North Carolina State Senate accused of violating North Carolina’s “Stand by Your Ad” law, which required certain disclosures in political advertisements.
  • Neil Gorsuch (Supreme Court), while on the Tenth Circuit, struck down a Colorado statute that imposed lower campaign contribution limits on minor party candidates than those applied to major party candidates. He authored a concurring opinion in the case suggesting limits on campaign contributions were unconstitutional.
  • Steven Grasz (Eighth Circuit), while Chief Deputy Attorney General, challenged the constitutionality of the Nebraska legislature’s campaign finance reforms.
  • James Ho (Fifth Circuit) authored an article opposing any limits on campaign contributions, and then on the Fifth Circuit argued that limits on campaign contributions are unconstitutional.
  • Steven Menashi (Nominated to Second Circuit) opposes any contribution limits. He wrote, “When the Congress decided to restrict such freedom by limiting political contributions, it led politicians to resort to actual criminality.”
  • Mark Norris (Western District of Tennessee) supported a bill to raise the aggregate limit for state senators on PAC donations to $472,000 every two years. The current limit is $472,000 every four years. He also supported legislation, which became law, that allowed corporations to make direct campaign contributions.
  • Lee Rudofsky (Nominated to Eastern District of Arkansas) claimed that “I think $5 billion is a pretty reasonable amount of money to spend in a conversation with the American public about who should be the leader of the free world,” and called corporate campaign spending “signs of a functioning democratic republic” and “the physical embodiment of the First Amendment.”
  • Brantley Starr (Northern District of Texas) sided with a Texas Tea Party group in their efforts to overturn campaign finance rules.
  • Amul Thapar (Sixth Circuit), as a district court judge, enjoined enforcement of eight rules of judicial conduct that Kentucky had enacted to keep judges nonpartisan and judicial candidates out of partisan politics. In that case, he used a severely flawed First Amendment analysis to strike down Kentucky’s ban on state judicial candidates contributing money to political organizations or candidates. The Sixth Circuit unanimously reversed that part of his decision.

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REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS
Trump judges and nominees who have fought to limit access to abortion and/or contraception

  • Campbell Barker (Eastern District of Texas) was a lead attorney defending Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (or “TRAP”) anti-choice laws, which the Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, 136 S.Ct. 2292 (2016). The Court found that the law had imposed undue burdens, including mandating hospital admitting privileges for abortion providers and requiring that clinics conform to the structural standards of ambulatory surgical centers. Barker also signed briefs in other cases where religious nonprofits challenged the ACA contraception mandate.
  • Amy Coney Barrett (Seventh Circuit) has been critical of Roe v. Wade. In one article, it was reported that Barrett stated that the “framework of Roe essentially permitted abortion on demand, and Roe recognizes no state interest in the life of a fetus.” Barrett also signed a letter authored by The Becket Fund criticizing the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that employers provide contraceptive coverage as part of their employer-sponsored health insurance plans.
  • Andrew Brasher (Middle District of Alabama) defended an unconstitutional law that would allow a judge to appoint an attorney for a fetus and the district attorney to call witnesses to testify regarding a minor’s maturity. He has defended other unlawful anti-choice policies, including laws requiring abortion providers to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, restricting where facilities that provide abortions can be located based on proximity to schools, and “effectively criminaliz[ing] the most common method of second-trimester abortions.” In 2014, Brasher, on behalf of the attorney general of Alabama, told a crowd, “The ACLU and Planned Parenthood want a fight and we will give them one.” Brasher challenged the contraceptive mandate in the ACA, and, in his personal capacity, even questioned the validity of Planned Parenthood v. Casey.
  • Jeffrey Brown (Southern District of Texas) bragged about his involvement in making it more difficult for minors to seek abortion care in Texas, referred to IUDs and emergency contraceptives as “potentially life-terminating drugs and devices” and “abortifacients,” and was endorsed by major anti-choice organizations in Texas.
  • Liles Burke (Northern District of Alabama), as a state court judge, held in Ankrom v. State, 152 So.3d 373 (2011) that the word “child” in Alabama’s child endangerment statute applies to the unborn.
  • John Bush (Sixth Circuit) likened abortion to slavery: “[t]he two greatest tragedies in our country—slavery and abortion—relied on similar reasoning and activist justices at the U.S. Supreme Court, first in the Dred Scott decision, and later in Roe.”
  • Stephen Clark (Eastern District of Missouri) said that Roe v. Wade “gave doctors a license to kill unborn children. Like the Dred Scott decision, Roe is BAD law.”
  • Daniel Collins (Ninth Circuit) fought to make it harder for women to obtain contraceptives and other basic healthcare. He filed amicus briefs in several cases to support religious nonprofits’ challenges to the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate, to argue that “provid[ing] seamless coverage of contraceptive services for women” and “provid[ing] cost-free contraceptive coverage” are not “compelling governmental interests,” and to strike down a Baltimore City ordinance that required pregnancy clinics that do not offer or provide referrals for abortion care to post disclosure signs in their waiting areas.
  • Kyle Duncan (Fifth Circuit) represented Hobby Lobby in its efforts to avoid providing contraceptive coverage to over 13,000 employees as required by the Affordable Care Act.
  • Allison Eid (Tenth Circuit), while on the Colorado Supreme Court, twice dissented from the denial of a writ of certiorari in a case involving graphic images of aborted fetuses displayed by protesters during church services. Applying strict scrutiny based on the compelling interest of protecting children from disturbing images, the Colorado Court of Appeals upheld an injunction preventing such displays.
  • Neil Gorsuch (Supreme Court) on the Supreme Court joined the other conservative Supreme Court justices in striking down California’s disclosure laws for fraudulent “crisis pregnancy centers” as unconstitutional compelled speech. Justice Breyer, in his dissent, pointed out how the decision “radically change[d] prior law.” Gorsuch joined Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas in dissenting from the Court’s decision not to hear a lower court case that had invalidated state actions that defunded Planned Parenthood. On the Tenth Circuit, he held that the Department of Health and Human Services could not require closely-held for-profit corporations to provide contraceptive coverage as part of their employer-sponsored health insurance plans if the corporation said that doing so conflicted with its religious beliefs. In Planned Parenthood Assoc. of Utah v. Herbert, moreover, he went to extraordinary lengths to allow the state of Utah to defund Planned Parenthood.
  • Britt Grant (Eleventh Circuit) defended a “fetal pain” law passed by the Georgia legislature. The law made it illegal for doctors to perform abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, with a few exceptions.
  • Steven Grasz (Eighth Circuit) has written that the historic denial of civil rights to Native Americans and African Americans is comparable to the “denial” of civil rights to aborted fetuses. As Chief Deputy Attorney General of Nebraska, Grasz defended laws banning abortion procedures as well as laws prohibiting the use of public funds for state grants to organizations that provided abortion-related services.
  • James Ho (Fifth Circuit) is associated with the First Liberty Institute, an organization that has taken strong stances against women’s reproductive rights. On the bench, Ho joined a Fifth Circuit panel that reversed a lower court order requiring the Texas Conference of Catholic Bishops to comply with a subpoena. In so doing, he made clear his views regarding the right to decide whether to have an abortion.
  • Matthew Kacsmaryk (Northern District of Texas) described Roe v. Wade as follows: “[S]even justices of the Supreme Court found an unwritten ‘fundamental right’ to abortion hiding in the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and the shadowy ‘penumbras’ of the Bill of Rights, a celestial phenomenon invisible to the non-lawyer eye.” He also vigorously opposed the Affordable Care Act employer contraceptive mandate, representing an organization that sought to avoid providing the healthcare required by the Department of Health and Human Services to female employees. His organization, the First Liberty Institute, has taken a hard-line stance against the contraception provision of the Affordable Care Act.
  • Gregory Katsas (D.C. Circuit) litigated multiple cases during his time in the Bush Administration where the government attempted to limit the rights of women to contraception and abortion access.
  • Brett Kavanaugh (Supreme Court), while on the D.C. Circuit, dissented in the case involving a young immigrant woman in government custody, Jane Doe, access to abortion care in Garza v. Hargan, 874 F.3d 735 (2017) even after she successfully followed and completed all of the burdensome requirements mandated by Texas to have the procedure. In allowing her to receive an abortion after completing various procedural hurdles, Kavanaugh argued that the D.C. Circuit created “a new right for unlawful immigrant minors in U.S. Government detention to obtain immediate abortion on demand, thereby barring any Government efforts to expeditiously transfer the minors to their immigration sponsors before they make that momentous life decision.”
  • Jonathan Kobes (Eighth Circuit) represented, pro bono, a group of fake women’s health centers seeking to uphold a South Dakota law that required physicians to read a predetermined script to women seeking an abortion. Under the law, the abortion care provider was required to tell women seeking abortion care that abortion ends “the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being,” that she has an “existing relationship” with the “unborn human being” and that abortion increases the risk of suicide.
  • Jeff Mateer (Nominated to Eastern District of Texas; Withdrawn) criticized Roe v. Wade. In a blog post he wrote, “In 1973, seven unelected judges determined that, despite hundreds of years of contrary precedent, the unborn had no right to life. Since that time, 52 million innocent lives have been taken. This past year over 1 million lives were terminated. Today alone, in abortion mills throughout the country, 2,739 babies will be killed. For over the past 30 years, we seem to be living in a society that does not honor life, but instead promotes a culture of death.” Mateer also represented four “crisis pregnancy centers” which claimed that their rights were violated when an Austin, Texas ordinance required them to post signage stating that they do not provide medical services. He also compared the contraceptive coverage mandate under the Affordable Care Act to oppression in Nazi Germany.
  • Steven Menashi (Nominated to Second Circuit) authored an amicus brief, pro bono, opposing the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate. He wrote an article praising the “consensus that opposes the radical abortion rights advocated by campus feminists and codified in Roe v. Wade.
  • Eric Miller (Ninth Circuit) signed briefs while working at the Justice Department that advanced the Bush Administration’s efforts to restrict access to abortion care.
  • Eric Murphy (Sixth Circuit) submitted a brief to the Supreme Court arguing in support of an Arizona law that prohibited certain abortions pre-viability. Murphy also defended a law targeting Planned Parenthood that would have cut off critical health funds, including funding for breast and cervical cancer prevention and sexual violence prevention, to any entity that provides abortion services.
  • Howard Nielson (District of Utah) coauthored an amicus brief in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, 136 S.Ct. 2292 (2016) arguing that the Supreme Court should uphold restrictive abortion regulations in Texas. These regulations required that all outpatient abortion providers meet untenable standards that would have shut down many women’s health facilities, making it incredibly difficult for women in Texas to safely access abortion providers.
  • Mark Norris (Western District of Tennessee) co-sponsored a resolution in Tennessee that would ban abortion even if necessary to protect the mother’s life or in cases of rape or incest. Also, as a state legislator he voted for a resolution urging Congress to overturn the ACA’s contraceptive-coverage policy. The resolution referred to the Obama Administration as “reminiscent of totalitarian and authoritarian regimes” and called the policy a “direct assault on people of faith and the very Constitution itself.”
  • Andrew Oldham (Fifth Circuit) was a lead attorney defending the Texas law consisting of a series of provisions known as Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) laws. Oldham also defended Texas’s controversial effort to bar reproductive health organizations from receiving funding through the Texas Women’s Health Program.
  • Michael Park (Second Circuit) represented the state of Kansas in Planned Parenthood of Kansas v. Andersen, 882 F.3d 1205 (10th Cir. 2018), after it attempted to defund Planned Parenthood and banned it from participating in the state Medicaid program. Park was also involved in defending the Trump Administration’s attack on the right of a young immigrant woman in government custody, Jane Doe, to access abortion care, in Garza v. Hargan, 304 F. Supp. 3d 145 (D.D.C. 2018).
  • Peter Phipps (Third Circuit) was the lead attorney for the DOJ in ACLU v. Azar. Phipps defended a Health and Human Services policy to provide grants to institutions that had “religious objection[s] to providing access to abortion or contraception.”
  • Sarah Pitlyk (Nominated to Eastern District of Missouri) has devoted nearly her entire career to fighting women’s reproductive freedom. She has criticized “gross defects in the Supreme Court’s thoroughly activist abortion jurisprudence,” supported Trump’s Title IX gag rule, and defended Iowa’s unconstitutional “Heartbeat Bill,” which would have banned abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected, before most women even know they are pregnant. In addition, she has defended David Daleiden, the architect of the deceptively-edited “sting” videos which purport to show Planned Parenthood employees selling fetal parts for money. She even opposed assistive reproductive technologies like in vitro fertilization and surrogacy, going so far as to state that “surrogacy is harmful to mothers and children, so it’s a practice society should not be enforcing.” Further she has fought for the personhood status of embryos, even suggesting that disposing of unused embryos is akin to murdering children.
  • Neomi Rao (D.C. Circuit) frequently uses her ideas regarding “dignity” in constitutional law as an ideological framework to couch problematic stances regarding social justice. Using this framework, Rao cited “dignity” in expressing her opposition to a woman’s right to access health care. For example, in a 2011 article titled “Dignity as Intrinsic Human Worth,” Rao twisted the reasoning the Supreme Court outlined in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833 (1992), to allude that the “dignity” of fetuses should perhaps override the right of women to control decisions regarding their health care. Rao explained how Casey “explicitly connected dignity, autonomy, and choice as ‘central to the liberty protected by the Fourteenth Amendment.’” She then challenged this reasoning by stating that while “the plurality highlighted the inherent dignity of a woman’s freedom to choose an abortion . . . it minimized the competing inherent dignity of the fetus to life.” In Rao’s view, courts “have often avoided the conflict by emphasizing the centrality of one of these dignities at the expense of the other.”
  • William McCrary Ray II (Northern District of Georgia) voiced his strong support for measures banning late-term abortions.
  • Chad Readler (Sixth Circuit) attacked the right of a young immigrant woman in government custody, Jane Doe, to have access to abortion care in Garza v. Hargan, 874 F.3d 735 (2017) even after she successfully followed and completed all of the burdensome requirements mandated by Texas to have the procedure. Readler also supported overturning the Ninth Circuit’s decision upholding regulations against fake women’s health centers in NIFLA v. Becerra, 138 S.Ct. 2361 (2018).
  • Lee Rudofsky (Nominated to Eastern District of Arkansas) questioned the constitutional basis of the right to choose and defended corporations that wish to deny reproductive health care coverage to employees. He led the effort to strip Medicaid funding from Planned Parenthood in Arkansas, and assisted other states, including Louisiana and Texas, in their attempts to block individuals from accessing vital health care. Rudofsky also supported Arkansas’ efforts to implement a 12-week abortion ban—and, more broadly, has supported targeted restrictions on abortion providers (TRAP laws) that aim to impose unnecessary, burdensome requirements on abortion providers and prevent them from performing crucial and constitutionally affirmed healthcare services.
  • Damien Schiff (Nominated to Court of Federal Claims; Withdrawn) wrote numerous pieces stating his disagreement with a woman’s right to choose whether to have an abortion. In a blog post, Schiff wrote: “I am not saying that people in favor of legalized abortion are morally decrepit (although I would consider their view on this matter to be gravely in error).” He also wrote that with regard to “forbidding women to abort their unborn children . . . at most it might be a deprivation of liberty within the meaning of the DPC [Due Process Clause], but that position, although conceptually less disagreeable than the EPC [Equal Protection Clause] argument, is nevertheless without originalist merit.”
  • Brantley Starr (Northern District of Texas) testified in support of a bill to restrict access to reproductive care by imposing harsh and medically unnecessary requirements on abortion care providers. In Whole Woman’s Health v. Paxton, he defended a Texas law criminalizing a vital, safer second-trimester abortion procedure. He also represented Texas in Franciscan Alliance, Inc. v. Burwell, a controversial, multi-state case challenging the Affordable Care Act’s anti-discrimination provision—a challenge that, if successful, would result in severe health consequences for women seeking reproductive care. Additionally, Starr advocated, “based solely on videos made by a radical anti-abortion group with ties to violent extremists,” for the termination of Medicaid agreements with Planned Parenthood. He also misrepresented information about local authorities to support the Texas AG’s office takeover of the criminalization and prosecution of abortion from local officials.
  • Brett Talley (Nominated to Middle District of Alabama; Withdrawn) called Roe v. Wade “indefensible.” In an online commentary, Talley also wrote that voters should support Trump “if you want justices who adhere to the Constitution, laws that respect unborn life.”
  • Michael Truncale (Eastern District of Texas), a strong opponent of abortion care, boasted on his 2012 campaign website that he was “the only congressional candidate to participate in a recent March for Life, ecumenical March for Life.” Calling for defunding of Planned Parenthood, he has also described the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive-coverage policy as an “assault on the Catholic Church” because “now you have the government telling religion what to do.” Truncale was particularly vicious about Wendy Davis, the Texas Democrat who in 2015 held a thirteen-hour-long filibuster to block a bill that severely restricted abortion care in Texas, describing “Wendy Davis’ Claim to fame-kills little girls.”
  • Lawrence VanDyke (Nominated to Ninth Circuit) submitted an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in support of Arizona’s twenty-week abortion ban, arguing that “an unborn child can feel pain by twenty weeks’ gestation.” In his brief, VanDyke asked the justices to reconsider Roe v. Wade. He also supported challenging the legality of “buffer zones,” which create a small zone outside of clinics through which patients and providers can enter without facing harassment from protesters. In Montana, he advocated for signing on to an Alabama comment letter that challenged the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate
  • Wendy Vitter (Eastern District of Louisiana) urged supporters to distribute materials that claimed abortion services are a cause of breast cancer and that birth control pills “kill” and make a woman more likely to be the victim of violent assault and murder. Vitter also publicly lauded how Texas has “led the nation in some very pro-life, restrictive laws,” and how anti-choice activists “are making great strides in making it very difficult to get abortions in Texas.”
  • Justin Walker (Western District of Kentucky) praised then-Judge Kavanaugh for a dissent arguing that the Obama Administration’s contraceptive-coverage policy, ensuring that employer-based insurance policies made the full range of birth control options available to employees, was unconstitutional.
  • Allen Winsor (Northern District of Florida) defended a Florida law that imposed a mandatory 24-hour waiting period before accessing abortion care. In April 2016, the Florida Supreme Court blocked the law, and it was recently declared unconstitutional. Winsor also filed an amicus brief in opposition to the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive coverage mandate.
  • Patrick Wyrick (Western District of Oklahoma), as Solicitor General of Oklahoma, fought reproductive rights for women, including supporting laws that limit access to contraception.

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SEXUAL HARASSMENT AND ASSAULT
Trump judges and nominees who have fought to weaken protections against sexual harassment and assault

  • Ryan Bounds (Nominated to Ninth Circuit; Withdrawn) wrote an article arguing that schools should impose a higher standard of proof for sexual assault claims, in contrast to the requirements for claims of other serious, nonsexual campus misconduct. The stringent “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard promoted by Bounds is typically reserved for criminal cases, whereas most schools use the “preponderance of the evidence” standard in their internal investigation of misconduct complaints. The imposition of a higher standard of proof on survivors of sexual violence, and not victims of all other types of misconduct, discriminates against sexual assault survivors.
  • Michael Brennan (Seventh Circuit) applauded the Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Morrison, which struck down key parts of the Violence Against Women Act.
  • Daniel Collins (Ninth Circuit) argued in defense of Internet Brands, Inc. against negligence claims after a woman utilizing Internet Brands’ model networking website was lured into a fake audition and sexually assaulted. The corporation allegedly knew about the rapists’ use of the website but did not warn users.
  • Kurt Engelhardt (Fifth Circuit), as a district court judge, had a troubling record with regard to sexual harassment claims, often going out of his way to rule that allegations do not rise to the level of objectively hostile conduct and to keep cases from even being heard by a jury.
  • Thomas Farr (Nominated to Eastern District of North Carolina; Withdrawn) supported a North Carolina bill that prevented women who were discriminated against or who were victims of sexual harassment in the workplace from filing a lawsuit in state court, calling it a “better policy for the state.” As an attorney, Farr defended a company when a supervisor said that female employees were “stupid, retarded, and awful,” that “women with children should be at home and not employed in the workplace,” and that he would go to an employee’s hotel room to “help [her] pick [her] panties off the floor.” Farr defended another company where a woman was denied a position because the job “was too hard and too rough for a woman.”
  • Brett Kavanaugh (Supreme Court), faced credible allegations of sexual assault made by Dr. Blasey Ford and other women during his Supreme Court confirmation hearing.
  • Kenneth Lee (Ninth Circuit) wrote a number of articles that demonstrated hostility toward women’s rights and equality.  He inappropriately criticized the experiences of sexual harassment survivors, espoused harmful stereotypes of sexual violence, and showed skepticism regarding the reported prevalence of rape on college campuses.
  • Steven Menashi (Nominated to Second Circuit) criticized “Take Back the Night” marches, which seek to end violence against women, writing “’Take Back the Night’ marches charge the majority of male students with complicity in rape and sexual violence (every man’s a potential rapist, they say, it’s part of the patriarchal culture).” As Acting General Counsel of the Department of Education he was intimately involved in the 2017 Title IX Question and Answer guidance document that rescinded Title IX guidance on schools’ responsibilities for protecting students from sexual harassment and violence; and he worked on the Department’s proposed rule on campus sexual assault.
  • Sarah Pitlyk (Nominated to Eastern District of Missouri) dismissed the credible accusation of sexual assault against Brett Kavanaugh as “direct character assassination” and a “last-ditch effort to block his path to the Supreme Court.”
  • Neomi Rao (D.C. Circuit) warned of “hysteria over date rape.” She argued, “a good way to avoid a potential date rape is to stay reasonably sober” and “if she drinks to the point where she can no longer choose, well, getting to that point was part of her choice.” OIRA, under Rao’s leadership, signed off on Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s efforts to roll back protections for survivors of sexual assault on college campuses. The proposed rule, while not yet final, would make a series of changes to Title IX processes on college campuses that many survivor groups oppose. As organizations such as End Rape on Campus and Know Your IX explain, “[I]f the proposed rule becomes law, survivors will lose access to their education and schools will continue to sweep sexual violence under the rug. The new rule will stop survivors from coming forward and make schools more dangerous for all students.” Rao also criticized the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), a landmark law with bipartisan support that protects survivors of sexual and domestic violence and seeks to root out sexual violence. In discussing Supreme Court precedent, Rao stated: “So they’re able to invalidate things like the Guns Free School Zone Act or parts of the Violence Against Women Act, which are really kind of grandstanding statutes, which are largely covered by other state laws or something like that.”
  • Lee Rudofsky (Nominated to Eastern District of Arkansas) argued that the Constitution prevents Arkansas from being sued for money damages under Title IX. If that were true, students would no longer be able to sue their school for money damages when the school mishandles their sexual assault claims.
  • David Stras (Eighth Circuit) as a state court judge dissented in a case that held that trial judges had the ability in a rape case to allow expert testimony that contradicted the defendant’s claim of consensual sex.
  • Justin Walker (Western District of Kentucky) continued to defend then-judge Brett Kavanaugh even after multiple women credibly accused him of sexual assault. After Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony, Walker suggested that she was “mistaken” about her own experience of sexual assault.
  • Don Willett (Fifth Circuit), while on the Texas Supreme Court, limited the amount of compensation that a victim of workplace sexual harassment and assault can collect from her employer.

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WORKERS
Trump judges and nominees who have fought protections for workers
(See also Equal Employment Opportunity and Sexual Harassment and Assault)

  • Joseph Bianco (Second Circuit), as a district court judge, granted motions to dismiss in employment law cases over 84 percent of the time.
  • Ryan Bounds (Nominated to Ninth Circuit; Withdrawn) criticized students who protested a “union-busting” hotel.
  • Jeffrey Brown (Southern District of Texas) as a state court judge voted to overturn a jury verdict for a railroad employee who contracted West Nile Virus after the railroad company, which knew about the existence of mosquitoes infected with the virus in the area, failed to adequately warn workers or provide mosquito repellant.
  • Daniel Collins (Ninth Circuit) repeatedly defended the interests of corporations sued under the Alien Tort Statute for alleged human rights violations, including child slavery.
  • Allison Eid (Tenth Circuit), while on the Colorado Supreme Court, dissented from a decision holding that a woman who fell and injured herself at work was entitled to workers’ compensation. Eid dissented and said workers’ compensation should not cover injuries “where the cause is not known” even if the injury occurred at work.
  • Thomas Farr (Nominated to Eastern District of North Carolina; Withdrawn) served as a staff attorney to the anti-union National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation and continued to promote that organization’s values throughout his career. For example, Farr filed an amicus brief arguing that California’s collective bargaining system for state employees was unconstitutional. In 1997, Farr urged the Supreme Court to consider and reverse a case that expanded protections for workers harmed by exposure to asbestos.
  • Neil Gorsuch (U.S. Supreme Court), while on the Supreme Court, wrote the opinion in Epic Systems v. Lewis, which effectively strips workers (in this case employees who were victims of wage theft, underpaid by their employers) of their ability to most effectively enforce their rights. Gorsuch was the deciding vote in Janus V. AFSCME, where he voted to overrule a 41-year-old precedent upholding the constitutionality of state laws that allow public sector unions to require nonmembers to pay their fair share of the costs of collective bargaining. On the Tenth Circuit, he repeatedly denied critical remedies to many workers wronged by their employers. He was the only one of seven judges who would have ruled against Alphonse Maddin, the “Frozen Trucker,” by ignoring a law to protect the health and safety of transportation workers and allowing Mr. Maddin’s employer to force him to choose between his job and saving his own life. In Hwang v. Kan. State Univ., Gorsuch ignored clearly established law and allowed an employer to deny a professor who was recovering from cancer, Grace Hwang, an accommodation to work from home when her doctor told her if she returned to work during a flu epidemic she would die.
  • Britt Grant (Eleventh Circuit) assisted with an amicus brief arguing that the Supreme Court should overrule Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, 431 U.S. 209 (1977) arguing public sector unions should not be able to collect fees from non-members in the workplace although non-members benefit from unions’ ability to secure better working conditions.
  • Brett Kavanaugh (U.S. Supreme Court), while on the D.C. Circuit, routinely ruled against workers and their families. In SeaWorld of Fla., LLC v. Perez he called OSHA protections “paternalistic” and would have overturned a fine for SeaWorld following the death of a trainer who was killed by a whale after SeaWorld failed to adopt sufficient safety measures. Kavanaugh also wrote an opinion upholding Department of Defense (DOD) regulations that undermined the collective bargaining rights of hundreds of thousands of DOD civilian employees. Kavanaugh sided with a company fighting workers’ attempts to improve working conditions, arguing that contrary to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), other judges, and prior Supreme Court precedent, the workers’ vote to join a union was invalid because of some of the workers’ immigration statuses. Kavanaugh also wrote opinions supporting the decision of a hotel, The Venetian, to ask the police to issue criminal citations against union demonstrators who were protesting legally; supporting CNN when the NLRB found it had discriminated against union members in hiring and needed to recognize and bargain with a worker’s union; and in favor of Verizon’s decision to prohibit union members from displaying pro-union signs in their cars while at work. Kavanaugh also sided with Donald Trump’s Venetian Casino when it tried to prevent workers from unionizing.
  • Barbara Lagoa (Nominated to Eleventh Circuit) as a state court judge sided with businesses challenging Miami Beach’s decision to raise the minimum wage.  She also ruled that Uber Drivers are not entitled to unemployment benefits.
  • Kenneth Lee (Ninth Circuit) criticized the “surge of wage-and-hour class action lawsuits” in California, including one case where Walmart had “to pay $172 million in damages for failing to provide 30-minute meal breaks to its employees in accordance with California labor law.” As he wrote, “these lawsuits can dent the bottom line of Fortune 500 companies and potentially cripple small businesses.”
  • Eric Miller (Ninth Circuit) worked to shield a corporation from liability when a Boeing employee was exposed to asbestos at work and later died from mesothelioma. Miller has also defended corporations against employment discrimination claims by women alleging harassment and a hostile work environment. Miller represented Microsoft, defending a corporate policy that made it difficult for employees to bring forward credible workplace harassment claims.
  • Mark Norris (Western District of Tennessee) pushed legislation that has made it far harder for workers to pursue compensation claims in Tennessee, including barring the cases from trial courts. He also advanced legislation that overturned living wage laws.
  • Andrew Oldham (Fifth Circuit) has argued the entire Department of Labor is unconstitutional.
  • Halil Ozerden (Nominated to Fifth Circuit) as a district court judge frequently prevents workers from fully litigating their cases against corporations. In EEOC v. Rite Way Service, Ozerden prevented a cleaning employee who had corroborated a colleague’s sexual harassment complaint against a supervisor and was subsequently fired from having her Title VII retaliation claim decided by a jury. Ozerden also granted summary judgment to an employer who was being sued by post-Hurricane Katrina emergency restoration workers for not paying overtime pay. He was overturned by the Fifth Circuit in both cases.
  • Michael Park (Second Circuit), after New York City issued an emergency order to improve work conditions for low-income nail salon workers, sued on behalf of salon owners, fighting efforts to protect workers. Park was also involved in efforts to make it more difficult for workers injured by asbestos to hold corporations accountable
  • Neomi Rao’s former office, OIRA, allowed revisions to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) protections that would allow certain employers to conceal workplace injuries.
  • Chad Readler (Sixth Circuit) helped disqualify millions of American workers from overtime pay by dropping the defense of a rule that doubled the minimum salary required for exemptions under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
  • Lee Rudofsky (Nominated to Eastern District of Arkansas) helped Arkansas sue to stop the Obama Administration’s overtime rule, which would have made about four million workers eligible for overtime pay. He also opposed the Persuader Advice Exemption Rule, which would have forced businesses to reveal information to the government about third-party labor relations consultants hired to help the company prevent workers from unionizing.
  • Allison Rushing (Fourth Circuit) represented Ernst & Young in Ernst & Young LLP v. Morris, which later was consolidated with Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis, 138 S. Ct. 1612 (2018). Rushing argued that employees who were denied overtime pay could be deprived of the right to unite and join as a class action in arbitration under the National Labor Relations Act.
  • Damien Schiff (Nominated to Court of Federal Claims; Withdrawn) believes OSHA is unconstitutional.
  • Lawrence VanDyke (Nominated to Ninth Circuit) fought the Obama Administration’s overtime rule, opposing overtime pay for about 4 million workers.
  • Justin Walker (Western District of Kentucky) represented a mining corporation after it violated the National Labor Relations Act “by refusing to recognize, bargain with, and provide…information” to the United Mine Workers of America International Union. He has also denigrated labor unions more generally, claiming that it is hypocritical to both support labor unions and advocate for “people power” over “special interest power.”
  • Patrick Wyrick (Western District of Oklahoma) defended a law that converted the state’s workers’ compensation system into one that gave far fewer protections for injured workers. On the Oklahoma Supreme Court, Wyrick dissented in a case where the court awarded compensation to an injured worker who suffered a permanent and total disability.

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