More than a third of Trump's appeals court nominees have anti-LGBT records
A report finds that Trump has made the U.S. court system more anti-LGBT.
By Ty Golay | Feb 11, 2020 | Print-friendly

More than one-third of President Trump's nominees for circuit court positions have consistently made rulings or statements unfavorable toward LGBT persons, according to a new report by LGBT advocacy organization Lambda Legal. Lambda Legal members said that the report illustrates the long-term impacts that the Trump administration will have on reshaping the federal court system to be more hostile to LGBT plaintiffs and cases.

"These are nominees that we're seeing who are not just inimical to LGBT protections but to civil rights generally," said Sasha Buchert, a senior attorney with the organization. "We don't oppose people based on their affiliation, but it's troubling that they're all reading from the same playbook."

Circuit courts take up appeals from federal courts and are the last stop before a case goes to the Supreme Court. They are also the "court of last resort" for cases that the Supreme Court declines to hear, making the circuit court judges' rulings in these cases the final word.

And like Supreme Court justices, circuit court judges retain their seats for life.

The Senate has confirmed 50 Trump nominees for circuit court seats. Among them, the report noted, is Lawrence VanDyke, who will take up a position in the Ninth Circuit Court. VanDyke penned an op-ed while in Harvard Law School suggesting that same-sex marriages "hurt families, and consequently children and society." He also filed an amicus brief in 2010 arguing that the First Amendment protects college campus groups that want to exclude LGBT members.

The report also objects to Trump nominee Neomi Rao, an appointee to the circuit appeals seat formerly held by Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Rao wrote a column in college complaining that "trendy movements" have "added sexuality to the standard checklist of traits requiring tolerance" and that "many gays" want to "fundamentally alter culture and society."