WASHINGTON ― The White House and Senate Republicans on Monday quietly advanced one of President Donald Trump’s most controversial judicial nominees to date, Steven Menashi, a legal aide to the president with a long record of opposing and undermining equality for communities of color, women and LGBTQ people.
Within minutes of the White House formally submitting Menashi’s nomination to the Senate late Monday afternoon, the Senate Judiciary Committee added his name to its agenda for a Wednesday hearing. The agenda had been blank prior to the White House sending over Menashi’s nomination.
That’s an incredibly fast turn-around for a judicial nominee, and it’s no mistake that the Republican-led committee kept its agenda empty until the last minute. It helped to stave off prolonged protests by progressive groups that have already signaled strong opposition to Menashi, who, if confirmed, will have a lifetime seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit.
Menashi, a 40-year-old lawyer who previously clerked for Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito and served as acting general counsel for Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, wrote dozens of incendiary editorials and blog posts in the late 1990s and early 2000s decrying “leftist multiculturalism” and “PC orthodoxy.”
As CNN first reported, Menashi complained about “gynocentrists” participating in Take Back the Night marches; accused the Human Rights Campaign of having “incessantly exploited the slaying of Matthew Shepard” for political benefit; and claimed that a Dartmouth fraternity wasn’t being racist when it held a “ghetto party” attended by white partygoers wearing Afros and carrying toy guns.
Menashi’s past writings include him comparing race data collection in college admissions to Germany under Adolf Hitler; denouncing women’s marches as sexual assault; opposing the ”radical abortion rights advocated by campus feminists and codified in Roe v. Wade”; arguing that diverse communities “exhibit less political and civic engagement, less effective government institutions, and fewer public goods”; and writing that it is “ridiculous” to say that students chanting the Dartmouth football cheer, “Wah-hoo-wah! Scalp ’em!,” are propagating “a racist belief in the inferiority of American Indians.”
In a 1998 opinion article, Menashi opposed need-based financial aid because, he argued, it hurt wealthy people. He also spread the Islamophobic myth that Gen. John Pershing executed Muslim prisoners in the Philippines in 1913 with bullets dipped in pig fat.
At least one left-leaning judicial advocacy group is planning protests this week to try to tank Menashi’s nomination.
“Menashi is a perfect storm of awful,” tweeted Brian Fallon of Demand Justice. “Expect protest activity this week regarding his nomination hearing.”
Fallon told HuffPost that protesters plan to attend Menashi’s hearing. Demand Justice and another progressive group, Credo, also expect to deliver a petition with 100,000 signatures to Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on the committee, in protest of Menashi.
Other groups are calling on the White House to rescind his nomination.
“Steven Menashi’s litany of racist, sexist, and homophobic remarks should be absolutely disqualifying for anyone seeking a lifetime seat on the federal bench,” Nan Aron, president of Alliance for Justice, said in a statement. “There is nothing in his record that gives any indication that Menashi could be trusted to administer even-handed justice. His nomination must be withdrawn immediately.”
Alliance for Justice previously released a detailed report on all of its concerns over Menashi’s record.
The Senate Judiciary Committee will begin Menashi’s confirmation hearing at 10 a.m. EDT Wednesday. You can watch the live feed here.