Lambda Legal to Senate Judiciary Committee: Stop Advancing Trump’s Dangerous Judicial Nominees on the Backs of LGBT Americans

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Lambda Legal Deeply Concerned with the Advancement of Judicial Nominees Steven Grasz, Don Willett, and Mark Norris
December 7, 2017

Washington, DC – Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee continued their relentless push to stack the federal courts with Donald Trump’s anti-LGBT nominees by advancing several nominations to the Senate floor along a party line vote, including the nominations of Leonard Steven Grasz to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, Don Willett to the Fifth Circuit, and Mark Norris to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee, all of whom Lambda Legal has opposed. The Judiciary Committee also advanced the nomination of James Ho to the Fifth Circuit. Lambda Legal sent a letter to the Senate Judiciary yesterday about its concerns over his nomination as well, citing his record which “suggests that he would be a consistent vote against the civil and human rights of LGBT Americans should he be confirmed.” The full letter can be found here.   

Sharon McGowan, Lambda Legal’s Director of Strategy, issued the following statement:
“It is breathtaking how easily the Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee have rolled over without a care for all of their constituents to advance a series of Trump’s nominees today. Chief among them were notoriously anti-LGBT Steven Grasz, Mark Norris, Don Willett, and James Ho, all of whom have demonstrated hostility towards the LGBT community while showing a disregard for our rights, our marriages, and our very existence. These nominees have proven that they cannot be trusted with the grave responsibility of a lifetime appointment to the federal bench, yet the Republicans on the Judiciary Committee are not properly scrutinizing the records of these dangerous nominees. They have undermined the credibility of the Senate just to appease the President, rather than doing their jobs on behalf of the American people.

“It’s despicable and it’s wrong, but today was not the first time they have abdicated their duties as United States Senators. They have time and again over the last year jammed through Trump nominee after Trump nominee, rushing through each vote regardless of how dangerous and hateful or incompetent each nominee’s record has been proven. So far, Donald Trump has already had nine of his circuit judges confirmed, and if the three that were passed out of the committee today are confirmed by the full Senate, that would make twelve – at this point in his administration, Obama only had confirmed three. And, the Senate Republicans aren’t slowing down. They are sprinting towards the year’s end to reshape the country’s judiciary in Donald Trump’s image in a way that will ensure lasting damage to those most vulnerable in this country who depend on a fair and impartial judicial system for generations to come.

The committee is scheduled to proceed with the nomination of Matthew Kacsmaryk next week, who has no judicial experience but is an anti-LGBT activist who has a long history of targeting those who do not live according to his personal social and religious beliefs. And, there are others waiting in the wings for their turn, including Jeff Mateer who believes transgender children are a part of ‘Satan’s plan.’

“We’ve had enough. To those on the Judiciary Committee, we say: do your job. Stop handing out lifetime appointments without a care for the records of each nominee. And, to those Senators not on the Judiciary Committee, know that millions of Americans are depending on you to not just be Trump’s rubber stamp and we need you to protect our judiciary from the generations of damage that could come.” 

At today’s hearing, Senator Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) echoed Lambda’s concerns, stating:
“These are nominees who have spent their careers intertwining their personal, political beliefs with their legal careers. They now come before this committee and either deny their beliefs or parrot a formulaic promise that they will ‘follow the law.’ Although they have spent large periods devoted to a variety of right-wing causes, they assure us they will abandon those agendas the minute they are confirmed to lifetime positions. Unbelievable. They come before us precisely because they have these ideological perspectives and agendas expected—excepted—to be reflected in their decisions.”

More information about L. Steven Grasz from Lambda Legal can be found here:

More information about Don Willett from Lambda Legal can be found here:

More information about Mark Norris from Lambda Legal can be found here:


Contact Info

For further information, or to speak with a representative of Lambda Legal, please contact Tom Zigo at

Related Issues: Fair Courts Project