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Donald Trump's Scary Supreme Court Picks

Lee, Canady, Tymkovich
From left: Mike Lee; Charles Canady; Timothy Tymkovich

The Republican presidential nominee's list of those he'd appoint to the Supreme Court is full of bad news for LGBT people.

Donald Trump Friday released a second list of his potential Supreme Court nominees, and it's just as scary for LGBT people -- and anyone who cares about civil liberties -- as the first.

The list seems designed to solidify Trump's support among the far right, the Associated Press notes, and it appears to have succeeded -- shortly after it was released, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, Trump's biggest rival during the Republican primary season, finally endorsed Trump's presidential bid. He specifically cited the list of court picks and its inclusion of U.S. Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, one of the Senate's most anti-LGBT members.

Lee, also a Republican, is the lead sponsor of the so-called First Amendment Defense Act, which would allow businesses, individuals, nonprofits, and even government employees with religious objections to marriage equality to deny goods and services to same-sex couples. A few years ago, he backed legislation called the State Marriage Defense Act, which would have let states decide which marriages they would recognize -- and to tell the federal government which of their state's marriages to recognize. It went nowhere.

Lee also opposes abortion rights and, according to civil rights group People for the American Way, believes many social safety net programs operated by the federal government are unconstitutional. These include Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, disaster relief, food stamps, and regulations on food safety, child labor, and the minimum wage.

Lee has already said he wouldn't be interested in a Supreme Court position, but the fact that Trump would even name him says much about the Republican presidential nominee's criteria for his high court picks. Lee's brother Thomas, a Utah Supreme Court justice, was on the earlier list, announced by Trump in May.

Also among the 10 possible judicial picks listed by Trump Friday, in addition to the 11 on the May list, is Florida Supreme Court Justice Charles Canady, who earlier in his career served four terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. During his tenure there, Canady, a Republican, was a major opponent of marriage equality.

In 1996, as the Hawaii courts considered a marriage equality case and House considered the Defense of Marriage Act, which would eventually become law, Canady said, "Should we let three judges in Hawaii decide to redefine marriage, not only for the people of Hawaii, but for the rest of the country as well? I really can't imagine how anyone could, in good conscience, oppose the proposition that the states should be able to deny the status of marriage to same-sex unions." DOMA allowed states to deny recognition to same-sex marriage performed in other states, and it denied federal government recognition to these marriages. The U.S. Supreme Court gutted it in 2013.

Also while in Congress, Canady was the first member to introduce a ban on certain types of late-term abortions, People for the American Way notes in a press release.

Timothy Tymkovich, chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, is a former solicitor general of Colorado, and in that position, he defended the state's antigay Amendment 2 before the U.S. Supreme Court. The high court ended up striking down the voter-approved measure, which prohibited any cities or counties within the state from banning antigay discrimination.

As the Senate considered Tymkovich's nomination to the appeals court in 2003, some brought up his antigay history. Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont mentioned a law journal article Tymkovich wrote that seemed "replete with heavy antihomosexual rhetoric." The Senate did confirm him anyway. And on the appeals court, Tymkovich wrote the majority opinion in the Hobby Lobby case, saying employers with objections to certain types of contraception had the right to deny workers insurance coverage for them.

Tymkovich and Neil Gorsuch, a judge on the same appeals court and another of Trump's picks, also wanted the full court to reconsider another decision involving contraception. A three-judge panel of the court had ruled against Little Sisters of the Poor, a Catholic order that operates hospitals, when the order wanted an exemption from the Affordable Care Act's mandate to provide contraceptive coverage. The two judges were among five of the court's members who voted to reconsider -- but they were outnumbered by the seven who voted not to.

Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert Young is reportedly an admirer of the late (and antigay) U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, whose death this year left a vacancy on the court. However, in a 2014 interview with The Grand Rapids Press,Young declined to state his position on marriage equality, saying he might be called to rule on it. He never had to, as the federal courts took care of the issue.Young is the only African-American on the list.

Others on the list, all characterized as reliably conservative in most media reports, are Amul Thapar of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky; Keith Blackwell, a justice of the Georgia Supreme Court; Iowa Supreme Court Justice Edward Mansfield, who joined the court after three marriage equality supporters were removed by voters; Margaret Ryan of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces; and Federico Moreno of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. And Trump has now said his lists are not theoretical -- he would select his Supreme Court nominees from this group.

The candidate made his lists with help from such conservative groups as the Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation. More liberal organizations were not impressed.

"Trump's additions to his Supreme Court list add to the mountain of evidence that the danger of a Trump presidency wouldn't be limited to one or two terms," said People for the American Way president Margaret Baker in the group's press release. "Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominees would be devastating for women, working families, senior citizens, and so many others for decades."

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