Steven Menashi

United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

  • AFJ Opposes
  • Court Circuit Court

August 14, 2019, President Trump announced his intent to nominate Steven
Menashi to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals for the seat previously held by
Thurgood Marshall, and most immediately held by Judge Dennis Jacobs.  If confirmed, the Second Circuit will contain
six Democratic appointed judges and six Republican appointed judges, with one
other pending Trump nominee.

on his history of inflammatory rhetoric and the work he has done throughout his
legal career, Alliance for Justice believes Menashi, if confirmed, will erode
critical rights and legal protections. He will protect the wealthy and the
powerful, not the rights of all Americans. Because little in Menashi’s
ultraconservative career suggests he will be a fair-minded nonbiased jurist, Alliance
for Justice strongly opposes his confirmation and calls on every senator to oppose.
Every senator who votes for his confirmation will own Menashi’s vile quotes and
positions contained in this report.

August 14, 2019, President Trump announced his intent to nominate Steven
Menashi to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals for the seat previously held by
Thurgood Marshall, and most immediately held by Judge Dennis Jacobs.  If confirmed, the Second Circuit will contain
six Democratic appointed judges and six Republican appointed judges, with one
other pending Trump nominee.

on his history of inflammatory rhetoric and the work he has done throughout his
legal career, Alliance for Justice believes Menashi, if confirmed, will erode
critical rights and legal protections. He will protect the wealthy and the
powerful, not the rights of all Americans. Because little in Menashi’s
ultraconservative career suggests he will be a fair-minded nonbiased jurist, Alliance
for Justice strongly opposes his confirmation and calls on every senator to oppose.
Every senator who votes for his confirmation will own Menashi’s vile quotes and
positions contained in this report.

Menashi’s long written record opposing
and undermining equity for communities of color, women, and LGBTQ Americans is
deeply disturbing and does not portend well for a jurist who is tasked with
serving in an impartial manner. For example, as a young adult, Menashi compared
the collection of race data in college admissions to Germany under Adolf
Hitler. He denounced
women’s marches against sexual assault and bemoaned the fact that schools could
discipline students who harassed women. He opposed
“radical abortion rights advocated by campus feminists and codified in Roe
v. Wade
.” He argued against diverse communities, writing
that “ethnically heterogeneous societies exhibit less political and civic
engagement, less effective government institutions, and fewer public goods.” In
another instance, Menashi defended
Italian leader Silvio Berlusconi for stating “the obvious” when he wrote of
“the superiority of Western civilization over Islam.” Menashi dismissed
education about multicultural awareness (which “was never about understanding
non-Western cultures” but “about denigrating Western culture to promote
self-esteem among ‘marginalized’ groups”). In college writings, he defended
a fraternity that threw a “ghetto party,” characterizing the event as “harmless
and unimportant.” Menashi, while a student at Dartmouth, also wrote:
“Equally ridiculous is the belief that chanting the old Dartmouth football
cheer, ‘Wah-Hoo-Wah! Scalp ‘Em!’ proceeds from a racist belief in the
inferiority of American Indians.”

As a lawyer, Menashi has been on the front lines in undermining rights and legal protections for millions, often times taking positions repudiated by courts. For example, Menashi opposed need-based financial aid explicitly because it purportedly hurts the wealthy and 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. In his own words, he was “responsible for providing legal advice on ALL aspects of the Department’s operations, including litigation, rulemaking, regulation, and enforcement.” (emphasis added). As a White House lawyer, he has worked closely with Stephen Miller on advancing Trump’s draconian immigration policy.

While Menashi’s record of bias would be troubling enough, he also attacks, demeans, and questions the motives of those with which he disagrees. For example, he accused an LGBTQ advocacy organization of exploiting the brutal murder of Matthew Shepard, a gay student, for political and financial ends. To him, those who opposed war in Iraq – “pro-Saddam activists” were not well-meaning citizens with policy disagreements but were “totally unprincipled,” “thoroughly contemptible,” and were protesting “on behalf of despotism.” He claimed Randi Weingarten, president of the United Federation of Teachers, was “dishonest” and “self-serving” and concerned “less about promoting students’ educational attainment than winning salary increases for public school teachers, regardless of their performance.” He argued that those enforcing civil rights laws weren’t doing so to use public accommodations, but to “vindicate a principle” about “religious beliefs.” He questioned whether lawyers for consumers and employees really “have the public’s well-being at heart.” He called the president of the People for the American Way “hysterical” because of his opposition to state funding of religious schools. He called animal rights activists “a contemptible bunch.”  

Equally troubling for a future jurist
who is supposed to dispassionately apply facts to law, Menashi has made claims
that eerily echo the worst of Trump’s xenophobic rhetoric and dismissal of
facts when they conflict with his ideology. Most illustrative, Menashi favorably
the Islamaphobic myth that General John Pershing executed Muslim prisoners in
the Philippines with bullets dipped in pig’s fat. David French, writing
in the National Review, wrote the following about Donald Trump’s
retelling of the same story:

one tweet Trump spread fake history, libeled an American hero, and signaled a
willingness – even eagerness – to commit war crimes. That’s conduct unbecoming
the lowliest officer in the military. Coming from the commander-in-chief, it’s
a complete disgrace.

The same could certainly be said for a
person seeking to sit on the second highest court in the country.

sum, Menashi is an ultraconservative ideologue who will be neither fair nor
unbiased in carrying out his agenda of eroding rights and legal protections on
which millions of people in the Second Circuit rely.


Menashi is a graduate of Dartmouth College and Stanford Law School. He was
editor-in-chief of the Dartmouth Review and a writer and editor for the
Hoover Institution’s Policy Review. He was also a member of the
editorial board for The New York Sun, a now-defunct conservative
newspaper. Menashi also co-authored with Ross Douthat the conservative
blog The American Scene, which largely concerned foreign policy,
including defending the Iraq war and attacking critics of the invasion. He condemned
war protesters as being “pro-despotism” and attacked libertarian Republicans,
including the CATO Institute, arguing
that “libertarianism, especially in the arena of foreign policy, has been
rendered ideologically obsolete in the post-September 11 world.”

law school Menashi clerked for Judge Douglas Ginsburg and Justice Samuel Alito.
He practiced law at Kirkland & Ellis and then was hired as an Assistant
Professor of Law at George Mason University. According to reports, Menashi was hired
with money provided by the Koch Brothers through a fund administered
by Leonard Leo. Menashi joined the Federalist Society in 2008 and is a member
of its Founders Club.

to September
, Menashi served as Deputy General Counsel for Postsecondary
Education and Acting General Counsel at the Department of Education (the “Department”),
under Betsy DeVos. He currently works as Special Assistant to President Trump
and Associate Counsel to the President. According to reports, he is a member
of the Stephen Miller-led Immigration Strategic Working Group.

Education and Student Protections

Menashi has written extensively on
education. In bemoaning the “moral drift” of the 1990s, he highlighted
that “[i]ncreasingly educators came to believe that the schools should address
the various social pathologies that the larger society seemed unable to remedy.
Schools displaced traditional curricula with programs about AIDS, illegitimacy,
drunk driving, and other causes.”

He supports school vouchers, including on the grounds that it “restore[s] taxpayers’ property rights.” As he wrote, [t]here’s an alternative to raising taxes that would still help New York meet its responsibility to provide a sound basic education to its schoolchildren. It is school choice through a system of vouchers.” As a lawyer, he defended Florida’s school voucher program. See 2016 Fl. S. Ct. Briefs LEXIS 232.

as discussed below, throughout his career, Menashi has fought against equal
access to quality education, once lamenting
that Americans schools “persist” in “promoting egalitarianism.”

argued against all need-based financial aid

has not only argued against need-based financial aid, but done so under the
guise that it harms the wealthy and powerful. In a 1998 New York Times op-ed,
Menashi wrote,
“[e]conomic need . . . determines who gets help. Families with higher incomes
as well as more savings and fewer children qualify for less aid. The system
thus punishes families with the foresight and prudence to save for their
children’s education.”

the same article he approvingly  quoted
Martin Feldstein, former chief economic advisor to President Reagan, who wrote
that need-based financial aid is “equivalent to a substantial capital levy on
the wealth that a family accumulates before and during the time that a family’s
child attends college.”

“Yes, the Government should help families pay for higher education. But we
shouldn’t punish the ants for the sake of the grasshoppers.”

weakened protections for women on college campuses

a young adult, in an article titled Heteropatriarchal Gynophobes!
Menashi 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).”

Menashi also minimized
sexual harassment of women. In the same article he bemoaned that “[o]ffhand
remarks or jokes can create a ‘hostile environment’ or ‘stigmatize’ women – and
can be punished through official disciplinary action.” He continued, “[a]fter
all, women may be the majority, they may be the beneficiaries of special
academic programs and institutional support, but they remain, by definition, an
oppressed minority.” In another article, he criticized
as “neo-McCarthysim” discipline based on “verbal” “abusive or harassing
behavior.” “The concept of ‘verbal behavior’” he wrote, is “nonsensical.”

these views, it is no surprise that, Menashi has been at the forefront of
rolling back protections for survivors of sexual harassment and assault on college
campuses in his professional career.

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. As organizations such as End Rape on Campus and Know Your IX explain, “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.”

is committed to dismantling equal opportunity

compared universities’ use of race as one consideration among many in the
admissions process to Germany under Adolf Hitler. He wrote:
“Sixty years after the promulgation of the Nuremberg laws, universities persist
in cataloguing students according to race on college applications and official

has further said
that “[d]efenders of racial preferences in college and graduate school
admissions resort to the most convoluted arguments.”

It is not just affirmative action that he opposes;
he has fought other measures to ensure equal education. While he was acting
general counsel at the Department of Education, the Department narrowed
the scope
of civil rights enforcement. Under Menashi, the Department made clear
that it will limit the use of a systematic approach to see if prohibited
behavior “was indicative of a broader problem affecting other students or
school community members.” As Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions
(HELP) Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray and other Democratic Senators highlighted,
the decision will “scale[] back civil rights enforcement.”

Furthermore, in February 2018, also when
Menashi was Acting General Counsel, the Education Department delayed
implementation of an Obama-era rule that would help expose the disproportionate
placement of students of color in special education settings. The Obama
Administration implemented the rule based on significant evidence that students
of color have historically been marginalized through questionable special
education placement, classification, and/or disciplinary outcomes compared to
their white counterparts.

After DeVos and Menashi proposed
delaying implementation of the rule, on March 9, 2018, a federal judge found
that the Department violated the law and required the rule go into effect. Council
of Parent Attys & Advocates, Inc. v. Devos
, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 36318
(D.D.C. March 7, 2019). The court found that Menashi’s Department acted
arbitrary and capricious; “failed to provide a reasoned explanation for
delaying the 2016 Regulations;” and “fail[ed] to account for the costs to
children, their parents, and society.”

As a side note, it is worth contrasting
Menashi’s lack of consideration for the costs to children of color evidenced in
Counsel of Parent Attys to his disproportionate consideration of the
costs of clean air protections on industry (discussed below). In an article, he
praised Brett Kavanaugh’s dissent – in a case
where Kavanaugh would have invalidated protections regarding hazardous
emissions – for observing that considering the cost of a regulation “is so
clearly ‘just common sense and sound government practice.’” Apparently, for
Menashi, this only applies to costs to industry, not African American children.

Finally, as
discussed below (LGBTQ Rights), Menashi was acting general counsel when the
Department undermined Title IX protections for transgender

Menashi sided with for-profit schools over defrauded students

also fought to delay an Obama-era rule which would have made it easier for
students to receive debt relief when they are victims of illegal or deceptive
tactics by colleges.

September 2018, a federal judge ruled that the delay was unlawful, and he
highlighted “unacknowledged and unexplained inconsistency” in arguments the
Department made, the “hallmark of arbitrary and capricious decision-making.” Bauer
v. DeVos
, 325 F. Supp. 3d 74 (D.D.C. 2018). The court emphasized that the
Department “offer[ed] no explanation for why it was necessary to stay
twenty-two sections of the final rule” and the court made clear that much of
the Department’s defense was done in a “perfunctory manner;” “mere boilerplate”
and “unsupported by any analysis.”

Devos and Menashi also improperly delayed implementation of
the State Authorization for Distance Education Rule, which requires disclosure
of troubles with state regulation or accreditation to inform students whether a
program meets state requirements for certification or licensure in a particular
field. This rule acts as a key consumer protection to vulnerable Americans
seeking education, who, according to the National Consumer Law Center, are
often low-income people, non-native English speakers, veterans, or
first-generation college students. Such students “are too often targeted by
unscrupulous and predatory
out-of-state schools that encourage individuals to take out federal student
loans to enroll in distance education programs without regard to whether the
programs are worthwhile investments or will qualify students for licensure in
their states.” As HELP Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray wrote,
the Department’s decision will have “significant, negative implications for
students, who will lack effective consumer protections and information.” Yet
again, a federal judge found the delay illegal. Nat’l Educ. Ass’n v. Devos,
379 F. Supp. 3d 1001 (N.D. Cal. 2019).

and Menashi have also
“thrown roadblocks in front of state law enforcement officials and federal
regulators who are pursuing legal action” against student loan companies “as they
seek to fend off allegations of cheating and misleading borrowers.” Among other
actions, in March 2018, the Education Department issued guidance arguing that
state regulations of federal student loans “impedes uniquely federal
interests.” And, yet again, courts found Menashi’s actions illegal. See Nelson
v. Great Lakes Educ. Loan Servs.
, 928 F.3d 639 (7th Cir. 2019); Student
Loan Servicing Alliance v. District of Columbia
, 351 F. Supp. 3d 26 (D.D.C.
2018). In particularly scathing language, the Seventh Circuit, in an opinion
joined by Reagan- and Trump-appointed judges, found Menashi’s notice of
interpretation on preemption “not persuasive because it is not particularly
thorough.” Nelson, 928 F.3d at 651, n.2 (internal quotation omitted).

LGBTQ Rights

his career, Menashi has demonstrated hostility toward LGBTQ rights and
equality. Menashi 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. During his leadership at the Department of
Education, the Department weakened
Title IX protections for transgender students.

of his bias, while the rest of the country was outraged at the killing of
Matthew Shepard, targeted and brutally beaten because of his sexual
orientation, Menashi claimed that the Human Rights Campaign (which he called
a “race-gender warrior group”) was “incessantly exploiting the slaying of
Matthew Shepard for both financial and political benefit.” He wrote
that HRC “values lives instrumentally, according to political calculations.”

was not the only time that Menashi attacked the motives of those fighting for
LGBTQ equality. For example,
with respect to those trying to enforce their rights under laws prohibiting
discrimination in public accommodation, he wrote that the “apparent motive is
not to insure access to photography or wedding cakes” but “to penalize [the
business owner’s] attempt to live in accordance with their religious beliefs.”

addition to policy positions, Menashi has gone as far as to imply
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.”

in the context of equality he refers to LGBTQ rights as a “deviation from
political decency.” He cited
approvingly a comment by Mark Steyn that “the European tendency . . . is to see
deviation from basic guarantees of political decency ‘as just another
alternative lifestyle – lesbian, vegetarianism, totalitarianism,
whatever.’ This may save some public figures the burden of judging others,
but it constitutes a flight from reality.”

respect to marriage equality, he wrote:
“Feminists and gender theorists argue that institutions like marriage and the
family – and indeed gender itself – are ‘social constructs’ that can be
uprooted and rearranged through education and social engineering.”

Further, commenting on essays by Hilton Kramer and Roger Kimball called “The Survival of Culture,” Menashi wrote, “These pages are full of warnings about the tendency to ignore reality. Mr. Kimball mentions the incipient normalization of ‘gender reassignment surgery.’” With comments like this, one must question Menashi’s ability to apply, without bias, laws designed to ensure equality for transgender people and queer women.

Women’s Rights

As noted above in the Education section, Menashi criticized “Take Back the Night” marches and discipline for sexual harassment on college campuses. And, he worked with Betsy Devos to undermine Title IX.

has diminished the rights of women outside the college arena too.

example, in an article titled, The Empty Decade, he criticizes
the “moral drift in 1990s America.” In doing so, he singles out “family and
medical leave” as “Clinton-era politics” that “were about private
comforts…rather than broad national interests.”

does it say about Menashi that he considers a law that enables workers to care
for themselves and their loved ones without jeopardizing their jobs as not in
the “broad national interest?” In fact, since 1993, the Family and Medical
Leave Act, although limited in its coverage, has been used more
than 200 million times
by women and men who were able to take
time away from their jobs to address serious health conditions, welcome a new
child, or care for a seriously ill loved one – without fear of losing their
jobs or health insurance coverage.

addition, Menashi has attacked people’s access to reproductive health care. He
authored an amicus
, pro bono, on behalf of former Justice Department officials
in Zubik
v. Burwell
, 136 S. Ct. 1557 (2016), supporting
religious nonprofits’ challenges to the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive
mandate. And while President Trump promised to appoint judges who will “automatically
overturn Roe v. Wade, Menashi satisfies that litmus test. For example, in 2001, he wrote,
“perhaps most striking for those confined to academe is the public consensus –
in evidence now for a number of years – on abortion, a consensus that opposes
the radical abortion rights advocated by campus feminists and codified in Roe
v. Wade
.” In 2005 he criticized the Democratic Party’s “extreme
position on abortion,” suggesting he disagrees with the position,
contained in the Party’s 2004 platform, that “we stand proudly for a woman’s
right to choose, consistent with Roe v. Wade” and that “we strongly support family planning and adoption
incentives. Abortion should be safe, legal, and rare.”

Human Rights

a 2002 article,
Menashi favorably repeated the Islamophobic myth that General John Pershing
executed Muslim prisoners in the Philippines with bullets dipped in pig’s fat. Menashi
wrote that “Pershing’s approach is probably no longer in the army’s
counterterrorism repertoire, but the result was that guerilla violence ended.”
He added, “The American response to Islamic extremism has not always been so
harsh – or as effective.”

reciting this story is telling; it demonstrates his willingness to put ideology
ahead of facts. The reality is, as historian Brian McAllister Linn stated,
“this story is a fabrication and has long been discredited.” Linn added,
“there is absolutely no evidence this occurred…It’s a made-up story.” David
French, writing
in the National Review, called Trump retelling the same story “a
complete disgrace.”

addition to praising Pershing’s purported actions in killing Muslims with
bullets dipped in pig’s fat, Menashi, in the same article,
praised Augusto Pinochet: “Yet, amidst his general endorsement of despotism,
[Author Robert Kaplan] for some reason condemns Chilean dictator Augusto
Pinochet. It’s unclear why he does so.” In reality, as Amnesty International noted,
under Pinochet “[t]ens of thousands of people were detained, tortured, killed
or disappeared. The total number of people officially recognized as disappeared
in Chile or killed between 1973 and 1990 stands at over 3,000 and survivors of
political imprisonment and/or torture at around 40,000.”

Menashi added, “Pinochet even had noble aims: He saved Chile from communism and
eventually surrendered his authority to a democratic government. But Kaplan
somehow concludes that Pinochet employed ‘excessive’ violence.”

a person who does not consider thousands killed and around 40,000 imprisoned or
tortured “excessive violence,” it is perhaps no surprise that Menashi also minimized
human rights concerns regarding the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay: “The
detainees at Guantanamo are reportedly well fed and clothed, have access to
medical care and shower facilities, and Muslim detainees even have the
opportunity to pray six times daily with military chaplains and copies of the Koran.”

Access to Justice

has often expressed strong negative opinions regarding attorneys on one side of
the cases he will be hearing: those who represent workers and consumers. Those
attorneys will likely be at a distinct disadvantage when they face a biased
jurist like Menashi.

that “trial lawyers have been feeding on the public for long enough” and “it
would be a blessed relief for the American taxpayer if the trial lawyers started
cannibalizing each other and left the rest of us alone.” He added, “if anyone
in America . . . actually thinks that trial lawyers have the public’s
well-being at heart, let them come to watch internecine warfare among trial
lawyers in New York.”

even 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.

has also supported
efforts to cap recovery for those injured as a result of medical malpractice
(which he argued
was a better policy than “expanding the Medicaid program and paying for it with
new taxes on the rich”). This would mean in a country where preventable errors
cause over 400,000
patient deaths annually, the civil
justice system could not give families of patients who have died or have been
injured by medical negligence an avenue to seek full accountability. As
Dean Clancy, former senior budget official in the George W. Bush administration
about such caps, such “half-baked ideas . . . don’t save money, don’t increase
physician supply, and don’t reduce health care costs” and “may actually
increase costs.”

Menashi’s belief that those who are injured, through no fault of their own, due
to the negligence of others should not have the ability to hold corporations
fully accountable, it is no surprise that he chose to devote his career as a
litigator to defending pharmaceutical companies against lawsuits when drug
companies failed to provide adequate warnings to doctors and consumers.

example, Menashi argued against justice for Bo Anderson, a teenage boy who was
prescribed medication for a skin condition known as psoriasis, which causes
patches of irritated skin on his scalp. At the time, the drug was approved for
treatment of adults, but not for children; and after taking the drug Anderson
developed leukemia. Even though the company admitted it failed to warn of the
known risk of pediatric leukemia, Menashi argued against Anderson’s right to
hold the drug company accountable. Anderson v. Abbott Labs., 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 141585 (N.D.
Tex. Sep. 30, 2012); 2013 U.S. 5th Cir. Briefs LEXIS 581 (Menashi brief
to Fifth Circuit).

another case, Menashi also argued against justice for Samantha Reckis, a
seven-year-old girl who had developed a life-threatening rash when her parents
gave her over-the-counter children’s Motrin for her fever and sinus congestion.
Her parents believed the drug to be safe based on the label and doctor’s instructions.
Yet, side effects of the drug caused her to be hospitalized for six months. She
had to be placed in a medically induced coma. Samantha suffered a stroke
followed by an aneurysm, a cranial hemorrhage that causes seizures, and
underwent brain surgery. While she lived, Samantha will have life lasting
effects such as blindness, diminished lung function, and cognitive limitations.
Reckis v. Johnson & Johnson, 471 Mass. 272 (2015); 2015
U.S. S. Ct. Briefs LEXIS 3571 (Menashi’s cert petition); Cert. denied, 136 S.
Ct. 896 (2016).

Menashi also argued against liability
in a case where 39-year-old father of five was prescribed a generic narcotic
pain reliever just months before the FDA pulled the drug from the market for a
high risk of heart arrhythmias. As a result, he became a spastic quadriplegic
and then died of cardiac arrest. The plaintiff argued that Teva and Target
should not have marketed or sold the drug in the first place once they knew the
product was unsafe. An Illinois state court found that the case could go
forward and was not preempted by federal law. Guvenoz v. Target Corp.,
30 N.E.3d 404; 2016 U.S.
S. Ct. Briefs LEXIS 874 (Menashi cert. petition)

Public Health and Safety

Menashi wants to tie the hands of the
agencies that Congress has recognized as having the knowledge and experience to
enforce critical laws, safeguard essential protections, and ensure the health
and safety of the public. He has criticized legal principles that are essential
to enabling the federal government to regulate corporations and protect
consumers, the environment, workers, and more.

In articles called Our Illiberal
Administrative Law
and Presidential Power in Historical Perspective: Reflections
on Calabresi and Yoo’s the Unitary Executive,
Menashi, and co-author
Douglas Ginsburg, bemoan
that “our administrative law is marked not by fringe judicial zealotry but by
judicial passivity in enforcing mainstream liberal norms.” He criticizes
“deferential judicial posture” towards agencies, as well as that “body
of administrative law
” that “no longer provides [a] mandated
check upon the agencies.” He decries
“extreme deference.” He calls
for “more probing judicial review of the merits – including the scientific
merits – of agency decisions.”

In his articles, Menashi called for
reinvigorating the nondelegation doctrine – last used successfully in 1935 by a
famously reactionary Supreme Court majority bent on invalidating the New Deal. See
A.L.A. Schechter Poultry Corp. v. United States, 295 U.S. 495 (1935). Currently,
executive agencies are permitted to exercise rulemaking authority pursuant to a
valid delegation from Congress. As long as the delegation provides a
“sufficiently intelligible principle, there is nothing inherently
unconstitutional about it.” Whitman v. Am. Trucking Ass’ns, 531 U.S.
457, 490 (2001) (Stevens, J., concurring).

Criticizing the law since 1935, Menashi
“the evisceration of the nondelegation doctrine has left a void in the
constitutional structure.” He added,
“[t]he nondelegation doctrine is too essential a principle of American
constitutionalism to disappear entirely . . .What is needed, in short, is a
Court that recognizes that the nondelegation principle…is no less a part of the
judiciary’s charge to uphold the Constitution.”

In other words, Menashi disagrees with
a nearly 85-year-old principle of law, arguing that agencies should not be able
to exercise authority, even if Congress properly delegates it. Even
conservative justice Antonin Scalia made clear this position’s radical nature.
As he explained, reviving that doctrine would deprive Congress of the authority
essential to empower agencies to effectively implement and enforce critical
statutes that protect the American people in countless areas from ensuring
financial stability to controlling health hazards. As Scalia noted, “we have
almost never felt qualified to second-guess Congress regarding the permissible
degree of policy judgment that can be left to those executing or applying the
law” because “a certain degree of discretion, and thus of lawmaking, inheres in
most executive and judicial action.” Mistretta v. United States, 488
U.S. 361, 417 (1989) (Scalia, J., dissenting).

Menashi would flout these principles
and disable Congress from making government work for the American people.

In addition to accepting the
non-delegation doctrine, Justice Scalia also accepted the legal principle that
gives agencies the authority to determine how they will carry out their
mandates when the congressional act governing their actions might be open to
different interpretations – referred to as “Chevron deference.” As Justice
Scalia noted,
“in the long run Chevron will endure and be given its full scope” because “it
more accurately reflects the reality of government, and thus more adequately
serves its needs.”

Menashi disagrees on this point and has
expressed hostility towards the decades-old doctrine that is a cornerstone of
administrative law.

Menashi has also specifically argued
that agencies that historically have been independent should have less power to
issue public protections and enforce safety standards. He opined that such
agencies should no longer be independent, emphasizing
that “Congress has intruded upon the executive branch through the last
half-century. Since the expansion of the federal bureaucracy during the New
Deal, agencies nominally within the executive branch receive mandates directly
from Congress, bypassing the president.”

Agencies such as the Consumer Financial
Protection Board, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the National
Labor Relations Board (which Menashi singles out for criticism, noting
that “sometimes the claim to expertise is entirely fraudulent; the most
well-documented case is that of the [NLRB]”), and the Consumer Product Safety
Commission play critical roles in upholding the rights of consumers, workers,
and investors; Menashi would be hostile to the protection of these rights.

Finally, in a law review article titled
The Classical Liberal Constitution: Rational Basis With Economic Bite, Menashi
and co-author Douglas Ginsburg praise
Richard Epstein’s view that courts should conduct “more muscular review of
economic legislation,” in addition to the heightened scrutiny applied to
government actions with respect to race. This would enable ultraconservative
federal judges like himself to second-guess government regulations, like those
protecting consumers and workers.

As Chief Justice Roberts stated with
respect to similar arguments made by scholars in the past: “There is a common
thread to these arguments: They are invitations to rigorously scrutinize
economic legislation passed under the auspices of the police power. There was a
time when this Court presumed to make such binding judgments for society, under
the guise of interpreting the Due Process Clause. See Lochner v. New York.
We should not seek to reclaim that ground for judicial supremacy.” United
Haulers Ass’n v. Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste Mgmt. Auth.
, 550 U.S. 330, 347
(2007). (internal citation omitted).


Menashi, who opposed
the Kyoto Accord, has made clear his belief that courts need to constrain the
ability of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other agencies to
protect climate, clean air and clean water.

own views are expressed in Our Illiberal Administrative Law where he
criticizes courts for deferring to agencies, including the EPA. He praises then-Judge
Kavanaugh’s dissent in White Stallion Energy Center v. EPA, 348 F.3d
1222 (D.C. Circ. 2014) where Kavanaugh sided with industry over pollution
control. He dissented in part from a ruling that upheld regulation of mercury
and other hazardous pollution from power plants as “appropriate and necessary”
under the Clean Air Act. In Kavanaugh’s dissent, which Menashi lauds, he
criticized the EPA for failing to consider costs to industry. The Supreme Court
eventually reversed the D.C. Circuit in a 5-4 decision in Michigan v. EPA,
135 S. Ct. 2699 (2015).

another article, Presidential Power in Historical Perspective, Menashi
explicitly mentioned the Clean Air Act as an example of why rejuvenating the
non-delegation doctrine is important; to enable judges to prevent the EPA from
carrying out its delegated authority to protect our nation’s clean air.

Finally, it bears noting that Menashi,
in 2005, criticized
New York Senator Charles Schumer for asking then-Judge John Roberts: “what is
the proper role of the federal government in enacting laws to protect the
environment?” Menashi called
the question “cornball…as if a Supreme Court justice ought to have a role in
making environmental policy.”  

Menashi’s attack on Senator Schumer was
disingenuous at best as his own articles on administrative law demonstrate why
such a question is so important. His articles are replete with examples of courts
being asked to evaluate the ability of the federal government to protect clean
air and water. In one article, he describes
at length Int’l Harvester Co. v. Ruckelshaus, 478 F.2d 615 (D.C. Cir.
1973) – where “it was the court of appeals – not the people’s representatives,
not even the bureaucrats at the EPA – who balanced the environmental costs of
pollution against the economic costs to the auto industry.” And, in describing Massachusetts
v. EPA
, he wrote,
“the Supreme Court ordered the EPA to regulate carbon dioxide emissions.”


In 2005, Menashi cheered
the resignation of George Bush-appointed chair of the SEC William Donaldson. “Under
Mr. Donaldson’s direction,” he wrote,
“the SEC set records by imposing more than $6 billion in fines and other
payouts on securities law defendants.”

He wrote that Donaldson’s resignation gave the
Administration “an opportunity to change the SEC’s direction away from
over-regulation.” Illustrative of what he considered over-regulation was a
requirement that mutual fund boards be chaired by independent outsiders and
that stock orders must be filled by the best price available.

Menashi also bemoaned a D.C. Circuit decision upholding the FCC’s net-neutrality rules, citing it as an example for why Chevron deference to agencies is inappropriate.

Money in Politics

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.”

also defended
the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, criticizing “Senator Schumer and his cohorts
in the Anti-First Amendment Caucus” who advocated for legislation which “would
force independent 527 groups to register as political committees.”


Throughout his career, from writings as a young adult, to his work as a litigator shielding pharmaceutical companies, to his work at the Department of Education, Menashi has made clear his commitment to eroding critical rights and legal protections and protecting the wealthy and the powerful. Menashi will not be a fair-minded nonbiased jurist, and Alliance for Justice strongly opposes his confirmation.

Although his name is not on editorials written for the New York Sun, Menashi himself submitted them to the Committee.  He wrote, “from 2004 to 2005, I served as an editorial writer for the New York Sun.  Among my responsibilities was the writing of the initial draft of unsigned staff editorials that generally appeared on a daily basis.” He added, “I have provided … a list of those editorials, based on my recollection, for which I may have prepared the initial draft or participated substantially in editing.”

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