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PFAW Statement on Judicial Nominees Returned to White House

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Press Release
Drew Courtney
People For the American Way
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Last night, at the end of the first session of the 115th Congress, the Senate returned 27 judicial nominees to the White House, where President Trump will be forced to decide whether to renominate them in the new year. In response, PFAW Executive Vice President Marge Baker issued the following statement:

“The fact that 27 nominees got sent back to the White House is a significant win for Democrats, progressives and the American people. Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell have been trying to slam through as many glaringly unqualified nominees as they possibly can. Today’s action shows that Democrats have the power to slow that process and push for real consultation.

“It’s worth noting that at least three nominees being sent back to the White House—Brett Talley, Jeff Mateer and Matthew Petersen—won’t be renominated at all. All three nominees managed not just to embarrass themselves during the confirmation process, but to expose the deeply inadequate vetting process all the nominees are going through. There’s simply no chance these three would have survived the most basic scrutiny provided by any previous White House, and many of the nominees that Trump will likely renominate aren’t much better. Matthew Kacsmaryk, Thomas Farr, Kyle Duncan, and Mark Norris, among others, all have profoundly disturbing records that would be utterly unacceptable to any responsible administration.

“Together they make clear that Donald Trump and Don McGahn aren’t interested in competence or qualifications: they’re interested in loyalty and ideology. They are on a mission to attack and undermine the third branch of government, and thanks to Chuck Grassley’s lack of a moral backbone, they’ve made rapid progress towards that goal.

“In this first year alone, Trump and his allies have already done enormous damage to our justice system, wedging biased elitists into lifetime seats that they’ll be using to push Trump’s dangerous agenda for years, if not decades. It’s critical that we continue to use every tool at our disposal to protect our courts, our Constitution, and the Americans who depend on both to protect their rights.”

People For the American Way activists have spoken out against the confirmation of nominees Trump is expected to renominate, including:

  • Matthew Kacsmaryk, who is virulently opposed to LGBTQ rights, which he sees as grounded in a “radical” and “libertine” sexual revolution and who has complained that “marriage, sexuality, gender identity, and even the unborn child must yield to the erotic desires of liberated adults;”
  • Thomas Farr, who participated in a notorious voter intimidation effort against African Americans and seems to have lied about it to the Judiciary Committee;
  • Kyle Duncan, who defends TRAP laws limiting women’s access to abortion and healthcare rules and the use of religion as a sword to deprive others of their rights; and
  • Mark Norris, who has more respect for the KKK and the Confederacy than he does for Muslim refugees and the separation of powers.

People For the American Way is a progressive advocacy organization founded to fight right-wing extremism and defend constitutional values including free expression, religious liberty, equal justice under the law, and the right to meaningfully participate in our democracy.