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Longtime LGBTQ Enemy Steven Menashi Confirmed to Federal Court

Steven Menashi

Menashi, with a history of homophobic, misogynistic, and racist writings, now has a lifetime appointment to a federal appeals court.


The U.S. Senate voted Thursday to confirm Steven Menashi, who has a history of homophobic, misogynistic, and racist writings, to a lifetime appointment as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

The vote was 51-41, with Susan Collins of Maine being the only Republican senator to vote against confirming Menashi, Roll Call reports. Every Democrat who was present voted against him.

Menashi, whose most recent post was special assistant and associate counsel to Donald Trump, has written articles accusing the Human Rights Campaign of exploiting Matthew Shepard's murder for political and financial gain; denouncing "Take Back the Night" marches against sexual assault, saying they "charge the majority of male students with complicity in rape and sexual violence"; defending a "ghetto party" held by a largely white fraternity; and endorsing "ethnonationalism," the idea that societies function better when they are not ethnically diverse.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer had urged the rejection of Menashi's nomination, Roll Call notes, telling reporters Wednesday, "He just does not deserve to be on the bench, not only in terms of him -- his creating a system that broke the law in taking money away from students and loans, but what he said about civil rights, what he said about LGBTQ rights, how he handled himself in the hearing -- you could hardly come up with a worse person."

The remark about taking money away from students referred to Menashi's role in helping the Department of Education craft a plan to use private Social Security information to deny debt relief to students bilked by for-profit colleges. A federal judge ruled last year that the practice violated privacy laws.

During the hearings, Menashi refused to answer questions about his work on other controversial policies, such as the immigration initiatives developed by a working group led by White House senior adviser Stephen Miller.

"This working group has helped push a number of extreme anti-immigrant policies, including the White House's policy of separating children from their families, a problem that still has not been fully remedied -- despite a court order to do so," Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein said, according to Roll Call. "At his hearing, Mr. Menashi refused to answer numerous basic questions about his work, including about his role in the administration's family separation policy."

LGBTQ rights groups were quick to condemn the confirmation of Menashi, one of numerous far-right federal judges nominated and confirmed since Trump became president. Menashi has been a lawyer, clerk, and law professor, but he has no judicial experience.

"This is yet another extremist anti-LGBTQ nominee put on the federal bench by the Trump-Pence White House with the approval of Senate Republicans," said a statement issued by Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David. "Steven Menashi has made a career of promoting anti-LGBTQ rhetoric, and has used whatever platform he's handed -- from his college newspaper, to legal publications, to a seat at the table at the White House -- to undermine our community's fight for equality. As a federal judge, Menashi will have the opportunity to rule on numerous cases addressing some of the most critical questions regarding equality, fundamental rights and access to justice. This confirmation is the latest attack on the rights of LGBTQ people, and it shows why 2020 is more important than ever. Equality voters will hold this administration accountable next November."

Added Sasha J. Buchert, senior attorney at Lambda Legal: "Mr. Menashi's disqualifying record is not only plagued with bias against LGBT rights, but he also has actively undermined the rights of immigrants, women, students, and other vulnerable groups throughout his career. This record clearly demonstrates that he would to be unable to administer fair and impartial justice."

The Second Circuit covers New York, Connecticut, and Vermont. Notably, in 2018 it ruled, in the case of a skydiving instructor who said he was fired for being gay, that such a dismissal violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bans sex discrimination. The Supreme Court heard an appeal in October and is expected to rule on that and two other LGBTQ discrimination cases by June. With Menashi's confirmation, the Second Circuit, which may be called upon to rule on allegations of misconduct by Trump, has a 7-6 majority of Republican appointees.

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Trudy Ring

Trudy Ring, The Advocate's copy chief, has spent much of her journalistic career covering the LGBT movement. When she's not fielding questions about grammar, spelling, and LGBT history, she's sharing movie trivia or classic rock lyrics.
Trudy Ring, The Advocate's copy chief, has spent much of her journalistic career covering the LGBT movement. When she's not fielding questions about grammar, spelling, and LGBT history, she's sharing movie trivia or classic rock lyrics.