Anti-LGBTQ+ Republican U.S. Rep. Glenn Grothman is upset that President Joe Biden isn’t appointing more straight white men as federal judges.
“Almost impossible for white guys not gay apparently to get appointed here,” Grothman, who represents Wisconsin’s Sixth Congressional District, said on the House of Representatives floor Thursday.
He cited a recent study, which he did not identify by name, saying that Biden had appointed 97 judges to the federal courts, including the Supreme Court, and that five of them were white men, of whom two are gay. “I was expecting maybe 25 or 30 were white guys,” Grothman said.
It’s true that Biden has sought to diversify the federal courts and that he appointed the first Black woman, Ketanji Brown Jackson, to the U.S. Supreme Court. But the courts remain overwhelmingly white, straight, and male.
On the federal courts established under Article III of the U.S. Constitution, 70 percent of all sitting judges are male, and 78 percent are white, according to a study released last year by the American Bar Association. Article III courts consist of the Supreme Court, federal district courts, federal appeals courts, and the U.S. Court of International Trade.
Twenty federal judges are out members of the LGBTQ+ population, according to an April report by Lambda Legal, but that’s only 2.2 percent of the federal judiciary. There are no out bisexual, transgender, nonbinary, or intersex federal judges, Lambda Legal notes.
A study released January 30 by the Brookings Institution says that as of that date, Biden had 96 judicial nominees confirmed by the Senate; it appears to not include his Supreme Court appointment. It does say that only five were white men, but 11 of his nominees not yet confirmed are white males.
The White House announced its 33rd round of judicial nominees May 3, bringing the total of announced nominees to 167. These include the first South Asian woman to serve on U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and the first federal judge of East Asian descent in Michigan.
The nominations “continue to fulfill the President’s promise to ensure that the nation’s courts reflect the diversity that is one of our greatest assets as a country — both in terms of personal and professional backgrounds,” the announcement says. The “professional backgrounds” include experience as criminal defense lawyers, something that Biden has prioritized along with racial and gender diversity.
At any rate, Grothman doesn’t really have to worry about white straight men being underrepresented among federal judges. However, his remarks are consistent with his anti-LGBTQ record. He was first elected to the U.S. House in 2014 after several terms as a Wisconsin state legislator, and he has racked up a string of zeroes on the Human Rights Campaign’s Congressional Scorecard.
Shortly before his election in 2014, same-sex marriage became legal in Wisconsin thanks to a court decision, and he reacted angrily, saying the state was “legitimizing illegal and immoral marriages.” His opposition to marriage equality has continued. When the Supreme Court’s Obergefell v. Hodges decision took marriage equality nationwide in 2015, he said the justices had shown “contempt” for the Constitution. Last year, he voted against the Respect for Marriage Act, which wrote marriage equality into federal law, protecting it from future Supreme Court action.
Also in 2014, he objected to then-Secretary of State John Kerry’s criticism of Uganda’s “jail the gays” law. “What we have is the secretary of State going to Africa and educating Ugandans or saying he is going to send American scientists to Uganda to explain how normal homosexuality is. ... What must God think of our country?” Grothman said on a right-wing radio show. And just a few weeks ago, speaking at the Wisconsin state Republican convention, he said that fights over restroom access for transgender people are a sign of “moral decline in our country.”