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Donald Trump unveils new Supreme Court shortlist packed with deplorable homophobes and it’s bad, bad news for LGBT+ rights

Emma Powys Maurice September 10, 2020
Donald trump erases LGBT+ people from equality policy

US President Donald Trump at the 2020 Council for National Policy Meeting on August 21, 2020. (NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty)

Donald Trump has unveiled a list of potential Supreme Court nominees in the event of his re-election, and it’ll come as absolutely no surprise that it’s filled with homophobes and enemies of trans rights.

The president announced the list of 20 prospective justices at a White House event on Wednesday (September 9), saying they would all preserve America’s “founding principles”.

It’s clear he didn’t have equal rights in mind, as the line-up includes more than a few strong anti-LGBT+ figures.

“This list is teeming with individuals who have alarming anti-LGBTQ and anti-civil rights records, which should be disqualifying for any judicial nominee, let alone a nominee for the Supreme Court,” said Sharon McGowan from the legal advocacy group Lambda Legal.

“Notably, the president’s ‘litmus test’ for SCOTUS nominees seems to have demanded zealous opposition to abortion and common sense gun control measures, as well as an unrelenting commitment to destroying the Affordable Care Act and a deep hostility to LGBTQ equality.”

First up there’s Ted Cruz. Yes, really. The same Ted Cruz who refused to apologise for attending a “death to gays” rally, who’s “proud” to be backed by the founder of a listed anti-LGBT+ hate group, and who co-sponsored a bill that would explicitly permit discrimination against LGBT+ people based on “a sincerely held religious belief”.

Anti-LGBT Republican Ted Cruz
Yes, that Ted Cruz (Chip Somodevilla/Getty)

Then there’s Lawrence VanDyke, who is a judge on the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals in spite of the American Bar Association (ABA) declaring him “not qualified” for the position, in large part because of his anti-LGBT+ record.

According to a letter from the ABA, “Mr VanDyke would not say affirmatively that he would be fair to any litigant before him, notably members of the LGBTQ community.” He famously broke down in tears when confronted on this by a Senate Judiciary Committee.

Next up is former solicitor general Noel Francisco, who represented the Trump administration in the landmark Title VII Supreme Court cases. Francisco argued that the law does not bar discrimination based on transgender status or sexual orientation.

“When Title VII was enacted in 1964, ‘sex’ meant biological sex; it ‘refer[red] to [the] physiological distinction’ between ‘male and female,'” stated the brief he signed. “Title VII thus does not apply to discrimination against an individual based on his or her gender identity.”

Before the case reached the Supreme Court it had already been past another of Trump’s nominees — judge James Ho of the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals, who similarly ruled against LGBT+ protections.

judiciary nominee Lawrence VanDyke crying
Lawrence VanDyke crying when confronted on his anti-LGBT+ views (Twitter)

Judge Ho is joined on the 5th circuit by another name on Trump’s list, judge Stuart Kyle Duncan, who previously denied a trans woman the right to have her legal name and correct pronouns used in her incarceration records, and for prison guards to refer to her with she/her pronouns.

When Duncan was first appointed as judge in 2018 Lambda Legal described him as “one of president Trump’s worst nominees”, describing his career as “one long grudge match against women and LGBT+ Americans”.

Then there’s former solicitor general Paul Clement, who was hired by the Republicans in 2011 to lead their fight against same-sex marriage. He withdrew from the case under pressure from gay rights groups and later argued that the gays had become “too powerful” to justify any judicial protection.

The unfortunate list continues with Arkansas senator Tom Cotton, who’s has previously stated that LGBT+ people can’t complain about discrimination in the US because they’d be hanged in Iran. “I think it’s important that we have a sense of perspective,” he said in 2017.

From this perspective, it’s not looking good.

More: 2020 presidential election, Donald Trump, Republican Party, Supreme Court nominees, US Supreme Court Justices

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