Updated, 11:55 a.m. with comments from the Michigan Democratic Party
President Donald Trump has been filling federal court slots with right-wing nominees at record speed, with a big assist from U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)
Trump’s latest high-profile pick for the influential Second U.S. Court of Appeals is Steven Menashi, associate counsel to the president. Menashi also was a top lawyer for the U.S. Department of Education, which is run by West Michigan native Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. Progressives have lined up against Menashi, noting the department’s new rules for college sexual assault reporting that survivors have widely criticized, Yahoo News reports.
“Steve Menashi would be Betsy DeVos in a robe,” said Lena Zwarensteyn of the progressive Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “He is undeserving and unqualified for a lifetime position on the Second Circuit.”
Michigan Democratic Party spokesman Paul Kanan added in a statement to the Advance, “Betsy DeVos already owns the vast majority of Republican lawmakers — Americans and our democracy cannot afford her having a U.S. Court of Appeals judge in her pocket, too.”
Menashi also helped shape the Trump administration’s restrictionist immigration policy. U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) criticized him at a hearing this week for not being forthcoming about his role.
U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the committee’s ranking member, asked Menashi if he had a role in the Trump administration policy of separating children from their families at the border.
Progressives pointed to Menashi’s prolific writings for conservative outlets, Yahoo News reports:
In those writings, Menashi routinely expressed opinions that, today, would make many Republicans uncomfortable. As a wealthy student at an elite college, he once called recipients of financial aid “grasshoppers.” In another article, he praised the “noble aims” of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet. And in a law review essay, he criticized “ethnically heterogeneous societies,” leading to accusations that he was a white nationalist — a claim his proponents say is outrageous.
Although Trump has gotten the vast majority of his nominees confirmed, Menashi is expected to face a tough fight.