When contemplating the damage a president can do to civil rights, there is some solace that they will only be in that office a maximum of eight years. But the judges presidents appoint serve for the rest of their lives. And Steven Menashi, who has worked closely with the Trump administration, could soon be given the opportunity to enforce the Trump agenda for decades to come.
President Trump has nominated Menashi for a lifetime seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which has jurisdiction over Connecticut, New York, and Vermont. Menashi’s record of intolerance is long, and is exemplified by the work he’s done for the Trump administration working with Betsy Devos in the Department of Education and with Stephen Miller on immigration policy. Any Senator who votes to confirm Menashi will be endorsing the prejudice he stands for.
If his history of intolerant views weren’t vile enough, he also refuses to answer questions as to whether he played any role in Trump’s Ukraine call at the center of the House impeachment inquiry. Confirming Menashi means turning a blind eye to the incriminating findings that continue to come out of the House’s impeachment inquiry.
Have you been keeping track of everything DeVos has done as Department of Education? She completely abandoned LGBTQ students who experience discrimination, she weakened protections for victims of sexual assault, sided with deceptive for-profit colleges over defrauded students, and she’s made it harder to access a quality public education. You know who was by her side through most of that? Steven Menashi. He has even opposed providing need-based financial aid to college students because he thinks it unfairly punishes wealthy people.
And you know how Stephen Miller has been plotting increasingly dehumanizing ways of treating immigrants and trying to block asylum seekers from coming to the United States? Well guess who’s been helping him figure out how to write xenophobia into policy! Steven Menashi.
His work for the administration only begins to scratch the surface of the many years of biased views Menashi has espoused. He once accused the Human Rights Campaign of trying to politically capitalize on the murder of Matthew Shepard, invoking the specter of “identity politics.” He has openly defended nationalism and ethnic divisions, arguing that diverse communities have less effective governance and engagement. And Menashi even agreed with Silvio Berlusconi that it’s “obvious” that Western civilization is superior to Islam.
Since leaving the Department of Education last year, Menashi’s not only been working as a special assistant to Trump, but also as associate counsel for the White House. But when Democratic Senators asked Menashi to clarify his knowledge of Trump’s infamous Ukraine call, he refused to respond.
Such evasiveness is par for the course for Menashi. He was so unforthcoming during his confirmation hearing that even Republican Sen. John Kennedy (LA) said it was “doubtful” if he could support him. Kennedy has since said that he’s undecided on his vote, explaining, “The door is open, but it’s heavy.” Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) has said she will oppose Menashi’s confirmation.
But even if Collins and Kennedy both vote against confirmation, it may not be enough. We need to make sure that when the Senate Judiciary Committee votes next Thursday (10/31) whether to advance Menashi’s nomination to the full Senate floor, this Trump acolyte is stopped in his tracks.
It’s easy to think that when Trump is out of office, we can roll back the damage done to our education and immigration policy. But we can’t undo judicial nominations. As an appellate court judge, Menashi will have a lifetime of opportunity to rule against vulnerable groups according to his incredibly prejudiced views. And if Menashi is confirmed, Trump will be only one judge away from tipping the Second Circuit to a majority conservative court.
Call your senators now at (202) 224-3121 and tell them to oppose the confirmation of Steven Menashi. We know how much harm DeVos and Miller have done with Menashi at their side, so we can’t empower him for a lifetime of discrimination.