Bush “Totally Unsuited” for a Seat on the Federal Bench

Press Release


Washington, D.C., June 1, 2017 – Alliance for Justice today released a report on the record of John K. Bush, a Kentucky attorney who has been nominated for a seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit by President Donald Trump. AFJ President Nan Aron issued the following statement:

“You don’t have to look far to see that John Bush is totally unsuited for a seat on the federal bench. Through his voluminous writings online and elsewhere there emerges a portrait of a person who is intolerant, holds deep-seated prejudices, is disrespectful of the rights of others and even stoops to the use of abusive language and slurs targeting women and LGBTQ people. Giving a person of his hostile views and temperament a seat on the bench would undermine the confidence Americans must have in the ability of our justice system to dispense even-handed justice to all, regardless of their race, gender, sexual orientation, or religious or political beliefs. We urge Senators to read our report on Bush’s record and to oppose this nomination.”

AFJ’s report on John Bush’s record covers his career as well as his extensive writing under a pseudonym for the blog “Elephants in the Bluegrass.” Among other things, the report notes that Bush:

  • Gave a talk to a private Louisville club in which, stunningly, he chose to recite and apparently condone a quote by the author Hunter S. Thompson that employs an anti-gay slur: “I come here every year, and let me tell you one thing I’ve learned—this is no town to be giving people the impression you’re some kind of faggot,” Bush told the audience, according to his written notes.
  • In a blog post entitled The Legacy From Dr. King’s Dream That Liberals Ignore, conflates the goals of the civil rights movement with those of the pro-life movement, concluding with the following statement: “The 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.”
  • Referred disparagingly to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as “Mama Pelosi” and called for her to be “gag[ged]” when she made comments he disagreed with.
  • Argued that the idea “that too much is spent on political campaigns simply doesn’t square with the facts put in proper perspective.” Bush went on to encourage more campaign spending, writing, “So why shouldn’t more money, not less, be spent on political speech, given how much is spent by advertising and commercial speech?”

AFJ’s report explores Bush’s legal and other views on executive power, LGBTQ rights, women’s rights, and the First Amendment, as well as highlights of his career in private practice. During his career, Bush represented Senator Mitch McConnell in an effort to invalidate campaign finance laws in Kentucky. The report notes that Bush’s wife, Bridget Bush, served on the board of directors of the Kentucky Opportunity Coalition, a nonprofit organization that played a pivotal role in aiding Senator McConnell’s reelection bid in 2014. The group raised over $14 million during the course of the campaign, and spent over $7 million on expenditures expressly advocating for McConnell.