27 LGBT+ rights groups in the US have come together to cosign a letter appealing to the Senate to reject two of Donald Trump’s judicial nominees.
Trump has nominated John K. Bush for the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, and Damien Schiff to be a judge of the United States Court of Federal Claims.
The letter was spearheaded by Lambda Legal, and was signed by a wide range of LGBT+ organisations including the Human Rights Campaign, National Centre for Transgender Equality, Freedom for All Americans and PFLAG.
John K. Bush (left) and Damien Schiff (photos from Bingham Greenebaum Doll LLP and Pacific Legal Foundation)
The organisations wrote that Bush and Schiff’s “views on civil rights issues are fundamentally at odds with the notion that LGBT people are entitled to equality, liberty, justice and dignity under the law.”
They continued: “Although neither Mr. Bush nor Mr. Schiff has any judicial experience, their public statements and writings have repeatedly demonstrated not only an extraordinary lack of judgment but also plain contempt for the rights of LGBT Americans, people living with HIV, women, and other vulnerable populations.”
Progressive groups have repeatedly called out Bush, including when he joked about ‘faggots’ and mocked same-sex parents.
Bush is currently an attorney in Kentucky. He has previously compared abortion to slavery, calling them “the two greatest tragedies in our country.”
The attorney has also publicly endorsed the views of those who oppose marriage equality for same-sex couples.
Lambda Legal said that Bush had demonstrated “a level of contempt for LGBT people and women that should lead any reasonable member of the Senate to question Mr. Bush’s fitness to serve.”
Schiff is currently a conservative attorney in California, and Lambda Legal says his nomination is “equally frightening to the LGBT community.”
In 2009, Schiff wrote a piece called “Teaching ‘Gayness’ in Public Schools” which criticised Californian schools for teaching “that bullying of homosexuals is wrong and that homosexual families are the moral equivalent of traditional heterosexual families.”
Schiff has also challenged Title IX, which gives LGBT students equal educational opportunities.
“The records of Mr. Bush and Mr. Schiff demonstrate that their appointment to the bench would cause grave harm to the LGBT community, as well as many other communities who rely on the federal judiciary to administer fair and impartial justice,” the letter concludes.
Bush is set to have his confirmation vote tomorrow, while Schiff’s has not yet been set.
As the Senate is currently Republican-controlled, the two candidates stand a good chance of being appointed.
However, if all Democrats and three Republicans vote against, the nominations could be shot down.
Progressive campaigners are hoping that some of the candidates’ more radical remarks may turn moderate Republicans in the Senate against them, thus swinging the vote.
This also comes at a time when LGBT rights in the US Supreme Court are on shaky ground.
The nine-person Court currently leans 5-4 in favour of left-leaning justices, but three of the justices are rumoured to be approaching retirement.
They would be replaced by justices of President Trump’s choosing, which would likely shift the balance.
View Lambda Legal’s full letter here.