President Donald Trump on Wednesday
released his shortlist of potential Supreme Court nominees.
Included on the list, revealed after
the president missed a number of self-imposed deadlines, are Senators
Ted Cruz of Texas, Tom Cotton of Arkansas, and Josh Hawley of
Missouri, all of whom are opposed to LGBT rights. Another potential
pick is the lawyer who defended the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA),
which prohibited the federal government from recognizing the legal
marriages of gay and lesbian couples.
Cruz and Cotton scored zero on the
Human Rights Campaign's (HRC) Congressional Scorecard, a measure of a
lawmaker's support for LGBT rights. Cruz has been a vocal opponent of
same-sex marriage and critic of transgender rights.
Cruz calls gay marriage ruling “fundamentally wrong.”)
Hawley, who assumed office in 2019, was
not included in HRC's latest survey but has criticized the Supreme
Court's Bostock decision, which expanded the definition of sex
in federal law to include sexual orientation and gender identity.
This new definition affects all federal laws that prohibit
discrimination based on sex, including in such areas as housing,
employment, and education. Hawley called Bostock “the end of
the conservative legal movement.”
Also on the list is Paul Clement, the
lawyer who stepped in to defend DOMA when President Barack Obama's
administration refused to do so. He was hired by conservatives in
Another notable lawyer on the list is
Noel Francisco, who recently stepped down as U.S. solicitor general.
In that position, Francisco argued before the Supreme Court that
businesses should be allowed to discriminate against people who
identify as LGBT (Masterpiece Cakeshop) and employers should
be allowed to fire LGBT workers (Bostock).
Trump also released a list of possible
nominees during the 2016 presidential campaign. He's said he would
pick from both lists if elected to a second term.
HRC called the list a distraction from
“Once again, Trump is trying to
distract from his failure to lead, this time by advertising a list of
individuals he hopes to appoint to the U.S. Supreme Court,” said
HRC President Alphonso David. “This shortlist is nothing but a
wishlist from groups such as the Federalist Society and The Heritage
Foundation, which have a track of record of hostility towards
progress, tolerance and equality. And, if the past is prologue, he
may once again nominate people who would deny legal protections for
LGBTQ people, take away the health care provided by the Affordable
Care Act, undermine the fundamental right to vote, erode core civil
rights laws, and fail to value the lives, needs and Constitutional
rights of the LGBTQ community. We must not let this happen, and it
starts by denying Trump a second term.”
Lambda Legal also criticized the list.
“This list is teeming with
individuals who have alarming anti-LGBTQ and anti-civil rights
records, which should be disqualifying for any judicial nominee, let
alone a nominee for the Supreme Court,” Lambda Legal's Sharon
McGowan said in a statement. “Notably, the President’s ‘litmus
test’ for SCOTUS nominees seems to have demanded zealous opposition
to abortion and common sense gun control measures, as well as an
unrelenting commitment to destroying the Affordable Care Act and a
deep hostility to LGBTQ equality. All of these positions are far
outside of the mainstream, and threaten not only the legal rights but
also the health and safety of LGBTQ people, everyone living with HIV,
and other groups who rely on fair and impartial courts to vindicate