Conservatives are hailing Donald Trump’s choices for potential nominees to the U.S. Supreme Court, but a quick look at the names reveals jurists with a history of anti-LGBT positions.
Trump this week revealed a list of 11 individuals he would consider nominating to fill the seat of the late U.S. Associate Justice Antonin Scalia.
The individual on Trump’s list who has the worst anti-LGBT reputation is U.S. Circuit Judge William Pryor, who sits on the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Upon his nomination to the court in 2004 by President George W. Bush, the LGBT group Lambda Legal dubbed him “the most demonstrably anti-gay judicial nominee in recent memory.”
In 2002, Pryor as an attorney co-authored a friend-of-the-court brief in the case of Lawrence v. Texas urging justices to uphold state bans on sodomy, which would have the effect of enabling jail time in some states for gay people who engage in consensual sex.
The 36-page brief says a court ruling against state sodomy laws must “logically extend to activities like prostitution, adultery, necrophilia, bestiality, possession of child pornography, and even incest and pedophilia.”
“Laws teach people what they should and should not do, based on the experiences of their elders,” the brief says. “The States should not be required to accept, as a matter of constitutional doctrine, that homosexual activity is harmless and does not expose both the individual and the public to deleterious spiritual and physical consequences.”
But as a judge on the Eleventh Circuit, Pryor in 2011 joined a surprising decision in the case of Glenn v. Brumby, which determined anti-trans workplace discrimination amounts to gender discrimination under current law.
Also among Trump’s list of potential judicial nominees is U.S. Circuit Judge Diane Sykes, an appointee of President George W. Bush who sits on the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.
In 2006, she issued an opinion in Christian Legal Society v. Walker that determined college groups are entitled to receive public university funding even if they engage in anti-LGBT discrimination.
The lawsuit was filed by the Christian Legal Society chapter at Southern Illinois University School of Law after the dean revoked the group’s official status, and therefore access to school funds, because the chapter precluded membership to those who engage in sexual conduct outside marriage, which includes gay people.
Sykes concluded the Christian Legal Society didn’t engage in discriminatory conduct because it made an exception to include gay people who refrained entirely from having sex.
“The same is true of unmarried heterosexual persons: heterosexual persons who do not participate in or condone heterosexual conduct outside of marriage may become CLS members; those who engage in unmarried heterosexual conduct and do not repent that conduct and affirm the statement of faith may not,” Sykes said. “CLS’s membership policies are thus based on belief and behavior rather than status, and no language in SIU’s policy prohibits this.”
Also on the list is Minnesota Supreme Court Justice David Straus. As reported by The Advocate, Straus was in the court majority in a case that overturned a decision to change the ballot for an anti-gay marriage amendment to make it clear it would prohibit gay couples from marrying.
Lawmakers wanted the ballot title to be “Recognition of Marriage Solely Between One Man and One Woman,” but Secretary of State Mark Ritchie instead selected “Limiting the Status of Marriage to Opposite Sex Couples.” Although the court reversed the ballot title to the lawmakers’ choice, voters defeated the amendment in 2012.
John Podesta, chair of the campaign for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, said the list of names is another reason why Trump isn’t fit to become president.
“At this point, it’s hard to keep up with the myriad reasons Trump should not be president, but the divisive policies and nominees, reckless and uninformed foreign policy positions and offensive views of Americans are just a few,” Podesta said. “Any one of these things would be troubling. All of them together, in just a few days, is further proof that Donald Trump is a risk we can’t afford.”
The Blade has placed a call to the Trump campaign seeking comment in response to criticism his choice of judicial nominees would uphold discrimination against LGBT people.
The list of potential nominees may not yet be final; Trump has said he plans on unveiling more names in the coming weeks.