LeGaL opposes the confirmation of Trump’s anti-LGBT nominee to the Third Circuit, David Porter
By now you’ve heard the news. The architect of every major pro-equality ruling in the last two decades, Justice Anthony Kennedy, is retiring.
But as we fight for a pro-equality Justice for the Supreme Court, the Trump administration continues to tap some of the most extremely anti-LGBT ideologues to serve lifetime appointments on the lower courts. The fight for equality has been waged in the courts, and federal judges are charged with upholding the rights of everyone.
At LeGaL, we are committed to ensuring that our judiciary is fair and impartial and staffed with qualified judges who reflect the diversity of New York and of the nation.
That is why we proudly stand with our civil rights partners in strong opposition to the confirmation of David Porter to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.
From our letter to the Senate:
Mr. Porter’s history of advocacy, and his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, raise serious doubts about his willingness to faithfully apply law with which he may not agree. During his representation of Penn State University in a discrimination case brought by a lesbian basketball player who claimed that the school coach had a de facto “no lesbians” policy, Mr. Porter accused the plaintiff of initiating the litigation to “create new social policy” in order to “elevate perceived sexual orientation to a fundamental substantive due process right and/or add it to the limited ranks of suspect classes that receive heightened protection under the Equal Protection Clause.”
When asked about this brief by Senator Klobuchar during his Senate Judiciary Committee testimony, and whether he would be able to apply the law establishing heightened protection for sexual orientation, Mr. Porter responded by stating that he would have no problem doing that if the courts come down that way or if Congress determines to expand protected classes.2 Mr. Porter’s answer, however, fails to take into account the fact that the Supreme Court, on no less than four occasions, has applied a more searching form of scrutiny than “traditional rational basis” to government action discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation. Mr. Porter’s reference to the need for Congressional action raises serious concern about his willingness to faithfully apply precedent with which he may disagree.
In Mr. Porter’s case, there are other aspects of his record that suggest that the values and philosophy that he would bring to the bench are inconsistent with the administration of fair and impartial justice for LGBT people. Mr. Porter is a trustee of Grove City College, a private religious college that was recently named the least LGBT-friendly college in the country. Notably Grove City College does not allow its students to accept federal financial aid in order to avoid complying with Title IX, a federal law critical to ensuring that LGBT students have access to an education free from discrimination and harassment. Mr. Porter is also a contributor to the Center for Vision & Values (“Center”), a think tank at Grove City College that has vigorously advocated against LGBT protections.
The extreme anti-LGBT positions advanced by the Center include support for conversion therapy, which has been denounced by the American Medical Association as harmful and unethical;arguments denigrating those in same-sex relationships and trivializing the struggle for marriage equality; and repeated assaults on the dignity of transgender people.
Mr. Porter’s affiliation with an institution driven by such deep anti- LGBT animus should leave any reasonable person with serious doubt about his ability to fairly adjudicate issues affecting the rights of the LGBT community. Furthermore, Mr. Porter has expended significant personal effort supporting organizations and individuals who promote discrimination against LGBT people. Chief among them is former Senator Rick Santorum, who was once named as the most anti-LGBT politician in the United States.
In praising Mr. Santorum’s 2005 book, It Takes a Family, Mr. Porter clearly wished to align himself with the extreme views set forth in that text, which included criticizing marriage equality, disparaging same-sex couples and their families, and blaming “the influence of radical feminism” for women finding it “more socially affirming to work outside the home than to give up their careers to take care of their children.” Mr. Porter’s endorsement of Mr. Santorum’s controversial book only further reinforces our concern about his ability to treat LGBT people with equality and dignity, and to fairly apply the law should LGBT people or issues come before him as a judge.