Five Things You Should Know About Second Circuit Nominee Steven Menashi

Steven Menashi is Trump’s latest pick for a lifetime position as a judge on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. Nominated by Trump in August, Republicans are trying to rush him through the nominations process so we don’t have time to talk about how horrible he would be for the judiciary. His hearing is this week. Here are a few things you should know about his record:

  1. Menashi is deeply connected with Trump and his Administration. He is currently the Special Assistant to the President and Associate Counsel to the President. At the White House, he is part of the immigration working group tasked with advancing the Trump Administration’s racist and xenophobic immigration policies. Prior to that role, he served as Acting General Counsel of the Department of Education for Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.
  2. Menashi helped the Department of Education roll back Title IX protections for students. As Acting General Counsel of the Department of Education (the Department), Menashi’s fingerprints are all over the Department’s efforts to overturn policies that protect students’ civil rights, including the Title IX proposed rule that would allow schools to dismiss many complaints of sexual harassment, including sexual assault. Menashi also exchanged near daily emails with the Department’s leadership regarding the guidance issued in 2017 which undermined protections for student sexual assault survivors. For instance, the 2017 guidance allowed schools to permit the person accused of assault to cross-examine the survivor, to permit questioning regarding a survivor’s sexual history, and to use an inappropriate and more demanding standard of evidence that tilts that scales in favor of named perpetrators.
  3. Menashi defended the right of employers to impose their religious beliefs on their employees and block them from receiving birth control coverage guaranteed by the ACA. As pro-bono counsel, Menashi co-authored an amicus brief in Zubik v. Burwell on behalf of former Department of Justice prosecutors and officials, including current U.S. Attorney General William Barr. The brief made an absurd argument that the simple act of filling out a form to opt-out of the ACA requirement is the same as providing a getaway car to someone else committing a crime. The brief was so ridiculous that other State AGs, former DOJ officials, and Criminal Law professors wrote a brief rebuking Menashi’s arguments.
  4. Menashi supported the extreme view that school employers should be able to avoid non-discrimination requirements because of their religious beliefs. Menashi wrote a law review article where he argued that it is unconstitutional to require a school that participates in a publicly-funded program to comply with anti-discrimination protections if those protections violated the schools’ asserted religious beliefs or practices.
  5. Menashi believes that men live “in a state of permanent culpability.” In college, Menashi wrote several detestable editorials, including one that criticized the Take Back the Night marches, a campaign focused on empowering survivors and highlighting the prevalence of and ending sexual violence on campus. He instead claimed that these marches “charge the majority of male students with complicity in rape and sexual violence (every man’s a potential rapist, they say, it’s part of the patriarchal culture.)” He also mocked the notion of discrimination against women, sarcastically remarking that “women may be the majority, they may be the beneficiaries of special academic programs and institutional support, but they remain, by definition, an oppressed minority.” In another article, Menashi also characterized the landmark Roe v. Wade case as codifying “radical abortion rights.”

Trump and his allies are hell-bent on stacking the courts with extremist judges. We must ensure that someone so entrenched in the Trump Administration’s regressive anti-reproductive rights, anti-LGBTQ, anti-women, anti-survivor agenda does not have the opportunity to rubberstamp the current rollback of our rights.