Trump Plucks Steven Menashi From Under Bridge, Installs Him On Appeals Court
Steven Menashi is bad. He has spent most of his adult life fighting against equality and justice and fighting for the rights of corporations and straight white males exclusively. And now, he has a lifetime appointment to a federal circuit court of appeals that makes decisions for nearly 24 million people.
Menashi's confirmation to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals wasn't always a sure thing. Early in the confirmation process, he faced bipartisan opposition and skepticism. Even reliable Trump lackeys like Lindsey Graham and John Kennedy expressed doubts. And Menashi didn't win himself any goodwill when he refused to answer basic questions from both Democratic and Republican senators.
But at the end of the day, Republican stooges almost always fall in line, which is exactly what they did late last week. The only Republican present to break ranks was Maine's favorite sycophant, Susan Collins, who faces a tough challenge from Maine's House Speaker, Susan Gideon, in 2020. (Yup, fake "moderate" Lisa Murkowski voted to confirm.) Although every Democrat present voted nay (even Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema!), Menashi was confirmed 51-41.
Menashi fits the mold of most of Trump's judicial nominees: extreme right wing conservative, young, and endorsed by the Federalist Society. Menashi is just 40 years old and is expected to sit on the bench for decades to come. Like most nominees, Menashi also has a background screwing people in the corporate defense world, having been a partner at Kirkland & Ellis before leaving the private sector to destroy lives for the Trump regime. Menashi also clerked for Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, arguably the most extreme-right member of the Court's five conservatives.
Until now, Menashi has been working inside the Trump regime, helping Stephen Miller destroy the lives of brown people and immigrants. And we don't even know the full extent of his work with that white nationalist wing of the White House because he largely refused to answer questions about his time as the white nationalist's sidekick.
A judicial nominee not wanting to answer any questions about his work with a known white supremacist on his very important work kidnapping babies definitely doesn't raise any red flags. Totally normal, we're sure.
Menashi's greatest hits include:
- Writing a law journal article titled "Ethnonationalism and Liberal Democracy" that "ethnic ties provide the groundwork for social trust" and "solidarity underlying democratic polities rests in large part on ethnic identification."
- Publicly condemning anti-sexual assault "Take Back the Night" marches while he was in college as organized by "campus gynocentrists" who unfairly accuse "the majority of male students with complicity in rape and sexual violence."
- Saying that "[i]dentity politics subsumes individuals in a tribal unit, and defines them not according to the dictates of their conscience or mind, but according to the historical circumstances of the tribe, and its relationship to actual or would-be oppressors."
- Saying "the superiority of Western civilization over Islam" is "obvious."
- Arguing that Roe v. Wade guaranteeing women and pregnant people a right to choose is an "extreme" leftist position.
- Comparing affirmative action policies to the Nazis' Nuremberg laws.
- Coming up with an illegal plan to deny students debt relief using their Social Security data.
And as if all that weren't enough insult to injury, Menashi now holds a seat once held by civil rights legend Thurgood Marshall, who argued such cases as Brown v. Board of Education and Shelley v. Kraemer before becoming the Supreme Court's first African American justice.
The Second Circuit is FUCKED
Menashi's confirmation flipped the Second Circuit from liberal to conservative. Republican presidents have appointed seven of the court's 13 judges and Trump alone appointed five of them.
The Second Circuit, covering the states of New York, Connecticut, and Vermont, has long been one of the largest and most influential appellate courts in the country. And right now, several of the most high-profile cases involving Trump and his various abuses of power take place within the Second Circuit.
Earlier this month, a three-judge panel of the Second Circuit ruled that Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance had the authority to subpoena Trump's financial records -- including his tax returns -- from Trump accounting firm Mazars. That case, along with another Trump tax return case, is now in front of the Supreme Court.
The Second Circuit has always been an important court, but it has taken on new levels of importance giving how many of the commander-in-chief's crimes took place within its borders. It has jurisdiction over lawsuits related to New York laws permitting the state to release Trump's state tax returns, whether various banks and financial companies can or have to release various Trump family financial records, and litigation over the fraudulent Trump Foundation. The Second Circuit is where Michael Cohen was prosecuted and all sorts of related investigations occurred (and are likely ongoing). Back in July, a panel of the Second Circuit told Trump to stop fucking blocking his constituents on Twitter, already (paraphrased).
And just in case you still couldn't decide whether or not all of this was fucking terrible, know that the nutjobs at the "Judicial Crisis Network" have much excite about the Second Circuit's recent flip.
"The Ninth Circuit and the Second Circuit both have been places that you might want to file a case if you thought you were going to get a liberal judge who was just going to give you what you wanted in those cases," [said] Carrie Severino, chief counsel at the conservative-leaning Judicial Crisis Network. "That's not the situation anymore in the Second Circuit."
And it's not just the Second Circuit
Trump appointed more federal judges to the bench in his first 2+ years as president than any other president has in that same period of time. Trump has appointed two Supreme Court justices, 46 circuit judges, 112 district judges, and two judges for United States Court of International Trade, for 162 federal judicial appointments. Trump and Mitch McConnell intend to increase this number to more than 180 in the coming months. Donald Trump has now nominated more than 25 percent of all circuit court judges. And that is TERRIFYING.
Mitch McConnell has probably done as much damage to the federal judiciary as any other person in US history. He refused to hold confirmation votes on qualified Obama nominees who would have been approved in a straight up-or-down vote. And he has rushed through as many Trump nominees as possible since January 2017.
The Second Circuit is not the only circuit court to be flipped by Trump appointees. Trump has also flipped the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and the US Virgin Islands. The Eleventh Circuit and famously liberal Ninth Circuit are also likely to flip soon. Four other circuit courts were already majority-Republican before Trump took office.
The overall makeup of a court ends up mattering in the most important cases. After federal district (trial) courts, cases are sent to circuit courts of appeal. Initially, a case is heard by a random panel of three circuit judges. The litigants can then request en banc review, where the entire court reviews the case.
En banc review is the last step before the Supreme Court, and the farthest most parties can hope to get. For the vast majority of litigants, federal circuit courts are the final deciders. Just one percent of cases get full consideration by the Supreme Court, which has discretion over whether or not to grant review in almost all cases.
Without some major changes to the federal judiciary, even a best-case scenario in 2020 would be unable to undo the damage Trump and McConnell have already done to the federal judiciary. Democrats need think long and hard about how they intend to right the ship once we finally evict that motherfucker out of the Oval.