The Slatest

Report Finds One-Third of Trump Appeals Court Judges Have History of Anti-LGBT Bias

President Trump introducing then-Circuit Judge Brett Kavanaugh as his nominee to the United States Supreme Court on July 9, 2018.
President Trump introducing then-Circuit Judge Brett Kavanaugh as his nominee to the United States Supreme Court on July 9, 2018. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

A new report on President Trump’s judicial appointments finds that one-third of the judges Trump has appointed to the federal appeals court have a demonstrated history of anti-LGBT bias, showing once again the lasting influence the GOP stocking of the courts will have on the U.S. The report by LGBTQ civil rights group Lambda Legal also shows how distressingly effective the Trump administration and its GOP allies in the Senate have been in ramming through nominations to the circuit court with a whopping 50 judges confirmed to the appeals court so far. Of those 50 nominees, zero have been black, one is Latino, and nearly 80 percent have been men, the report found. These judges will have an extraordinary impact on the U.S. legal system because while the Supreme Court only hears roughly 100 cases in a year, the circuit court hears tens of thousands of appeals from lower courts.

Last year, the Supreme Court heard 76 cases, whereas the U.S. Courts of Appeals had 49,363 filings, according to the report. That makes the 170 circuit court judges essentially the final arbiter in most cases, setting precedent across the U.S. federal court system. The number of Trump judges on the circuit court now amounts to twice as many federal circuit court judges as were confirmed in each of the five previous administrations. President Obama, by comparison, was only able to confirm 55 circuit judge nominees during his two terms in office.

The result is eight of the country’s 12 geographically-based circuit courts are now comprised of at least 25 percent Trump nominees and some, like the 11th Circuit, are far higher where Trump nominees now make up 42 percent of the circuit covering Alabama, Georgia, and Florida. “This massive shift in the U.S. Courts of Appeals, which [-] are the courts of last resort in most cases, threatens to do lasting damage to the civil rights of LGBT people,” Lambda Legal said in its report. Overall, Trump has put 187 judges on the federal bench.