On 9th November, the US Senate Judiciary Committee voted along party lines to move forward with the nomination of Gregory Katsas to the U.S. Federal Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, which is often described as the second most powerful court in the country behind the U.S. Supreme Court.
Gregory Katsas is currently the Deputy White House Counsel for the Trump Administration – which has routinely attacked the LGBT community, all people living with HIV, and overall civil rights in America.
Non-Profit legal LGBT advocate organisation, Lambda Legal, has brought together 20 additional national, state, and local LGBT groups urging members of the Senate Judiciary Committee to stop this nomination.
These groups include GLAAD, The Trevor Project, and the Transgender Law Center. Part of their letter reads:
“While his recent anti-LGBT legal work has been prolific, Mr. Katsas is not new to opposing LGBT rights. While he worked at the Justice Department, Mr. Katsas defended the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”) that defined marriage for federal purposes as excluding same-sex couples, and between 2004 and 2006, he served as counsel in two different cases attempting to uphold the statute. 6 While speaking before the Federalist Society in 2011, he was critical of the Obama administration’s decision not to defend the legality of DOMA”.
The nomination will now go to the full United States Senate for confirmation.
Sharon McGowan, Lambda Legal’s Director of Strategy, issued the following statement:
“Donald Trump’s agenda is failing in Congress, losing in the courts, and as we saw earlier this week, turning off voters. Desperate to accomplish something that feels like ‘winning’ to him and his base, Donald Trump is trying to stack the federal courts with judges who align with his dark and divisive views.
Perhaps the best example yet is his nomination of his own Deputy White House Counsel, Gregory Katsas, who has been working behind the scenes since day one to implement the President’s nefarious agenda, including his attacks on transgender people, whether they be students or soldiers. Our courts are one of the only remaining checks against the irrational and unconstitutional impulses of this administration, which is why Donald Trump has boasted that he intends to remake the courts in his image.
Yet these nominees, if approved for lifetime appointments to the bench, will be in a position to inflict damage on our Constitution long after Donald Trump has left the White House.
Meanwhile, the Senate is allowing Trump to do this. Even as some Senate Republicans try to distance themselves from the President, those serving on the Senate Judiciary Committee continue to show that they intend to rubberstamp Trump’s nominees no matter how clear the threat that the nominee poses to civil rights, the rule of law or the independent judiciary.
Unless Senators on both sides of the aisle stand up and speak out, Trump will soon have a federal bench filled with his people for life. We need all Senators, regardless of political party, to take seriously their responsibility to protect our courts and our Constitution.
The eyes of the nation are on the Senate, and history will not be kind to those who do nothing to prevent Donald Trump from undermining the credibility of our judicial system as a place where all citizens are equal in the eyes of the law.”
In their letter with 20 other LGBT groups to the Senate Judiciary Committee, ahead of today’s committee vote, Lambda Legal noted that Gregory Katsas “has been a legal architect behind several of the Trump administration’s most odious actions and policies targeting the LGBT community” and through his role as Deputy White House Counsel, “appeared to play a central role in morphing the trans military ban from tweet to policy.”
The letter also notes his long history of opposing the LGBT community, including defending the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and arguing in court that same-sex parents are not optimal parents.
It also points out that throughout his career, Katsas has had “complete and categorical disregard for any families other than those formed by heterosexual, gender conforming individuals.”
Finally, the letter puts his nomination into the broader picture of Trump’s agenda against the civil rights of all Americans, noting that his “record demonstrates that his appointment to the bench would cause grave harm to the LGBT community, as well as many other communities who rely on the federal judiciary to administer fair and impartial justice.”