Senate Confirms Trump Judicial Nominee Who Has Never Tried A Case Before
“Mr. Menashi is one of the most contemptible nominees to come before the Senate in all my time in this body.”
The Senate confirmed Trump appointee Steven Menashi to a lifetime position on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit on Thursday, despite the fact that the new judge has never tried a case before. Menashi’s confirmation flips the 2nd Circuit to a conservative majority, a change that could have lasting ramifications in ongoing legal battles over the president’s financial records.
Menashi is a former partner at Kirkland Ellis, a law firm where attorney general William Barr and disgraced former Trump labor secretary Alex Acosta also worked. He also served as acting general counsel in the Education Department under Secretary Betsy DeVos, where he helped craft an illegal Education Department effort to use private Social Security data to deny debt relief to thousands of students defrauded by for-profit colleges.
Menashi has most recently worked as President Trump’s legal adviser. In his confirmation hearing, Menashi refused to answer senators’ questions about his legal work at the White House, including potential involvement in the Trump administration’s efforts to conceal information about the Trump-Zelensky phone call at the heart of the impeachment inquiry.
While Menashi declined many of the senate’s questions, he did admit to working on immigration policies with senior adviser Stephen Miller. Miller is a white nationalist who has purposefully sought to worsen the hardship faced by asylum seekers at the southern border, having crafted the administration’s child separation policy in addition to its Muslim ban.
The Trump pick also has a history of controversial writings. The Washington Post notes a few of these, including: “a 2010 law journal article defending ‘ethnonationalism’ as a defense for Israel being a ‘Jewish state’ and writings accusing gay rights activists of exploiting the murder of Matthew Shepard and criticizing ‘Take Back the Night’ marches raising awareness about sexual assault on college campuses.”
Menashi was widely condemned by Democrats and progressives.
“Today the Senate confirmed Steven Menashi to a lifetime federal judgeship. Menashi: – Helped Stephen Miller craft the family separation policy – Wrote offensive remarks about women, Muslims, & the LGBTQ community – Has never even tried a case Even for Republicans, this is low,” tweeted former Labor Secretary Robert Reich.
“Nearly every national civil and women’s rights group opposed him, including the NAACP, the National Organization for Women, the Human Rights Campaign, Muslim Advocates and Planned Parenthood,” notes HuffPo’s Jennifer Bendery.
“Mr. Menashi is one of the most contemptible nominees to come before the Senate in all my time in this body,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). “His record on race, women’s equality, LGBTQ rights, and the rights of immigrants should be disqualifying.”
Menashi will now hold a seat that was previously filled by the esteemed former Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. He is the 162nd Trump judicial nominee confirmed by the Senate, a demonstration of Sen. McConnell’s successful efforts to reshape the nation’s courts with partisan loyalists.
“Mr. Menashi won major support from the Judiciary Committee … on the basis of strong academic and legal qualifications,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said ahead of Thursday’s vote. “I would urge all of our colleagues to confirm this impressive nominee.”
Nearly all of Trump’s appointees are linked to the Koch-funded Federalist Society. Nominees often fit the same mold as Menashi, having little or no experience in addition to accusations of discrimination. As progressive advocacy group Demand Justice’s Christopher Kang noted, many of Trump’s picks in August refused to endorse Brown v. Board of Education, the 1954 Supreme Court decision that ruled school segregation as unconstitutional. Nevertheless, the president has now appointed a total of 112 district judges, 46 circuit court judges and two Supreme Court justices.