Two attorneys who consider themselves progressive are shamefully hiding behind a respected progressive legal group to back a racist Trump judicial pick.
Ryan Bounds, Trump’s pick for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, is a dyed-in-the-wool conservative who will push the conservative agenda. So why are lawyers who consider themselves progressives backing his nomination?
Thus it is perplexing that he, along with another Oregon-based attorney, Gavin W. Bruce, just sent a glowing letter of recommendation for Bounds to the Department of Justice. Because Bounds’ past writings make it clear he’s unfit to be a judge, much less someone progressives should champion.
While a student at Stanford, Bounds mocked the idea of sensitivity toward minorities and LGBT individuals as a “pestilence.” He scorned students who strove for a multicultural society, calling them “multiculturalistas” and ridiculing what he called their “feel-good ethnic hoedowns.” He criticized groups for working to “build tolerance” and “promote diversity.”
As to campus sexual assault, he said there’s nothing the university could do to ensure a rapist doesn’t strike again. And he claimed that forcing a rapist to leave campus “is probably not going to contribute a great deal toward a rape victim’s recovery.”
Bounds is also a member of the Federalist Society, the conservative legal organization behind the majority of Trump’s judicial picks. An executive vice president at the Federalist Society was recently linked to a $1 million dark money donation to Trump’s inauguration committee.
Yet Hinkle and Bruce are ignoring all of this in favor of praising Bounds for merely attending events sponsored by the American Constitutional Society (ACS), an organization of progressive attorneys in which both Hinkle and Bruce have served in leadership roles.
In their letter to the DOJ, the two men rightly explain that ACS is a longtime champion of progressive goals. However, they also note that Bounds will not “be the staunchest ally of progressive causes” as a judge.
In effect, they are using a venerable progressive organization’s name to prop up a racist, anti-LGBT judicial pick, even though Hinkle and Bruce briefly acknowledge they’re not writing on behalf of ACS.
Meanwhile, ACS itself has pointed out out that Bounds’ nomination is an example of the broken judicial nomination process. Trump nominated Bounds without any input from either of Oregon’s Democratic senators, disregarding a longstanding tradition.
Hinkle and Bruce aren’t the first liberal lawyers to unwarrantedly defend their conservative colleagues and urge progressives to support them. Neal K. Katyal, an acting solicitor general under President Obama, wrote a glowing op-ed urging liberals to support Trump’s Supreme Court justice nominee Neil Gorsuch, as did David Frederick, an assistant to the solicitor general under President Bill Clinton.
Gorsuch, of course, has gone on to write dissenting opinions praising Trump’s Muslim ban and arguing for an expansive view of the Second Amendment that would create a constitutional right to publicly carry guns. He’d also happily limit LGBT rights and has voted to expand the right of religious institutions to use taxpayer dollars.
Trump’s mission to reshape the federal courts by nominating far-right judges already has the support of the conservative Federalist Society. Progressives have no good reason to help his cause. And they certainly have no reason to invoke the name of American Constitutional Society to do so for someone as opposed to its values as Ryan Bounds.