Lee Should Not Be Confirmed to Ninth Circuit

Press Release

Press Contact

Carolyn Bobb

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 27, 2019 – Alliance for Justice today released a report on the record of Kenneth Lee, President Trump’s nominee for a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. AFJ President Nan Aron made the following statement:

“President Trump has made no secret of his dislike for the current makeup and recent rulings of the Ninth Circuit, which has challenged some of his most egregious acts of overreach.  In nominating Kenneth Lee, he has chosen a person who gives every indication that he will be a reliable hard-right conservative and loyal follower of the Trump agenda. The White House was so determined to get a loyalist on the circuit that it is pushing for Lee’s confirmation over the strong objections of both of Lee’s home-state senators, Senators Feinstein and Harris — once again thumbing its nose at the normal nominations procedure in order to pack the courts with judges it believes will look more favorably on its actions.”

Among other things, the AFJ report finds that:

  • Lee reportedly failed to disclose a number of inflammatory writings to his home-state senators’ judicial selection committees.
  • Weeks after submitting his completed Senate Judiciary Questionnaire, Lee made a last-minute submission of scores of additional pages of highly controversial writings that he had omitted from his original SJQ.
  • Lee once wrote that ethnic studies on campus perpetuated a “victimization culture,” that a resource center for LGBTQ students was nothing but “a token to appease the more militant gay activists on campus,” and that “phony feminist statistics on rape, anorexia, and discriminatory treatment of girls” were rife on campus.
  • Lee has been harshly critical of equal-opportunity programs in education, attributing them to “soft-hearted liberal paternalism” and arguing that they “admit unqualified students to challenging schools where they are likely to fail.”
  • Lee has demonstrated hostility toward women’s rights and equality. He inappropriately criticized the experiences of survivors of sexual harassment and, in doing so, espoused harmful stereotypes about sexual violence.
  • Lee expressed harmful and offensive views about the LGBTQ community at the height of the AIDS epidemic, writing that LGBTQ people were at risk for the virus because “homosexuals are generally more promiscuous” than heterosexuals, and that it was more useful to address “values” involved in the transmission of AIDS than to pursue research to find a cure.
  • Lee has denigrated African-American struggles for equal rights, equating the African-American experience to that of white immigrants and writing, “Does anybody believe that Irish and Jewish immigrants would have overcome discrimination had they cried ‘victim,’ and labeled other people as insensitive oppressors and demanded preferential treatment? Of course not.”
  • Lee’s home-state senators, Feinstein and Harris, have registered their opposition to Lee’s nomination and have been disregarded by the administration.
  • Lee has taken a hard-line stance on voting rights that ignores racial and other inequities perpetuated by the disenfranchisement of formerly incarcerated persons.
  • During his time in private practice, Lee published articles taking aim at workers seeking fair working conditions and consumers seeking to hold large corporations legally accountable for wrongdoing.
  • Lee’s writings on legal and political topics are heavy with overt partisan bias, disparaging “the Left” and Democrats.
  • Lee’s nomination takes place against the backdrop of President Trump’s intense dissatisfaction with the Ninth Circuit and attacks on its independence.

Read the full AFJ report here.