Trump’s Judicial Nominees Would Enable His Anti-LGBTQ Agenda

Press Release


WASHINGTON, D.C., July 26, 2017  – As Donald Trump today tweeted his intent to ban transgender people from serving in the U.S. military, Alliance for Justice noted that the courts under Trump are at risk of becoming rubber stamps for his anti-LGBTQ agenda.  AFJ President Nan Aron released the following statement:

“Critical victories for transgender equality have been  won in our federal courts. Now more than ever, we need our courts to protect all LGBTQ rights, as today’s action by President Trump shows us once again that his administration is committed to attacking them. Unfortunately, the anti-LGBTQ records of several of Trump’s judicial nominees makes it clear that if they are confirmed, the federal courts could become an ally in Trump’s effort to turn back the clock for LGBTQ people in the United States. We urge Senators to remember that federal judges must be committed to protecting the rights of all Americans. There is no room for bigotry and prejudice on the bench.”

AFJ has studied the records of several of Trump’s federal court nominees. Among other things, AFJ notes:

  • Newly-confirmed Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch has already made clear his anti-LGBTQ bias.  When the Supreme Court ruled that states cannot discriminate against same-sex couples in determining who is listed on a child’s birth certificate – bolstering the ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges and concluding that same-sex couples are entitled to marriage “on the same terms and conditions as opposite-sex couples,” Gorsuch (joined only by Justice Clarence Thomas) dissented.
  • Court of Federal Claims nominee Damien Schiff  believes states should be able to criminalize what he calls “consensual sodomy,” opposes marriage equality, and has criticized efforts to prevent bullying of LGBTQ students (what he refers to as “teaching gayness in schools”).    
  • As a state supreme court justice, Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals nominee Joan Larsen failed to give Obergefell v. Hodges full effect, refusing to review an appellate court decision which declined to grant parental visitation rights to a lesbian mother.
  • Larsen took issue with the Supreme Court’s decision in Lawrence v. Texas, which struck down discriminatory sodomy laws, writing that “it would be an understatement in the extreme to call the Supreme Court’s decision in Lawrence v. Texas revolutionary.” Although her writing focused on whether international law could be applied to a U.S. case, she called the Lawrence decision “remarkable” and asserted that it “should alarm us” that the majority allegedly cited international norms without what she considered a sufficient explanation.
  • John Bush, confirmed in recent days to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, gave a talk to a private Louisville club in which 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.
  • Bush also criticized the State Department for modifying its passport application forms to account for the possibility of same-sex parents, and criticized the Kentucky Supreme Court for making Kentucky “the first state whose highest court immunized consensual sodomy from criminal prosecution under the state constitution.”
  • Court of Federal Claims nominee Stephen Schwartz holds extreme legal views undermining transgender rights, as shown in his 2017 representation of the Gloucester County (Virginia) School Board, where as co-counsel he drafted a merits brief arguing that Gavin Grimm, a transgender high school boy, should not be allowed to use the men’s restroom.

Full reports on the Trump judicial nominees are available on the AFJ website here.