U.S. Senate approves Trump-appointed NY federal appeals court judge who’s never argued a case

WASHINGTON — The Senate added to President Trump's tally of conservative federal judges Thursday, approving a 40-year-old administration lawyer who never argued a case to be on New York's influential federal appeals court.

Steven Menashi was slammed by opponents for his role helping craft Trump's draconian border policies and the Education Department's rollback of protections of sexual assault victims and LGBT rights. They also pointed to his past writings equating college race admissions data with Nazi German laws and his denunciation of “radical abortion rights" enshrined in the Roe v. Wade decision.

The confirmation installs Menashi for a lifetime appointment in seat on the Second Circuit once held by the Supreme Court’s first black justice, Thurgood Marshall — a historical fact that infuriated Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).

“Mr. Menashi is one of the most contemptible nominees to come before the Senate in all my time in this body,” Schumer said before the Senate narrowly approved Menashi, 51 to 41. “He would be a disgrace — a disgrace — to the seat once held by the great Thurgood Marshall.

“His record on race, women’s equality, LGBTQ rights, and the rights of immigrants, should be disqualifying,” Schumer said, adding that Menashi was a “textbook example” of someone who should not be on the bench.

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FILE - In this Sept. 11, 2019, file photo, White House lawyer Steven Menashi, President Donald Trump's nominee for U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, appears for his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, on Capitol Hill in Washington. The Senate Judiciary Committee has endorsed him for a federal appeals court post despite complaints about his refusal to answer questions about his record at the Education Department and the White House. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
White House lawyer Steven Menashi, President Donald Trump's nominee for U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, appears for his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019. Menashi's guarded responses were frustrating at times to both Democrats and Republicans on the Judiciary panel. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
White House lawyer Steven Menashi, President Donald Trump's nominee for U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, appears for his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019. Menashi's guarded responses were frustrating at times to both Democrats and Republicans on the Judiciary panel. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
White House lawyer Steven Menashi, President Donald Trump's nominee for U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, appears for his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019. Menashi's guarded responses were frustrating at times to both Democrats and Republicans on the Judiciary panel. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
White House lawyer Steven Menashi, President Donald Trump's nominee for U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, appears for his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019. Menashi's guarded responses were frustrating at times to both Democrats and Republicans on the Judiciary panel. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
White House lawyer Steven Menashi, President Donald Trump's nominee for U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, appears for his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019. Menashi's guarded responses were frustrating at times to both Democrats and Republicans on the Judiciary panel. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
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He pointed to a recent case in which a federal judge tossed out a Menashi-crafted plan at the Department of Education to use Social Security numbers to collect student loan debts from students who had been defrauded by a for-profit college.

“A judge ruled this scheme violated federal privacy laws,” Schumer said. “At the very least, a candidate for a judgeship should show respect for the law. That is the lowest possible bar.”

Menashi managed to anger both Democrats and Republicans during his confirmation hearing a month ago by refusing to answer basic questions about his work for Trump.

But only one Republican — Sen. Susan Collins of Maine — abandoned the Trump pick in the confirmation vote.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell did not have much to say about Menashi, praising his experience as a law clerk and his “strong academic and legal qualifications — degrees from Dartmouth and Stanford.”

McConnell did note that the Senate was pushing ahead with Trump nominations. A week ago he celebrated the fact that the Senate has confirmed so many appeals judges like Menashi that Trump appointees now hold a quarter of the nation’s appellate seats.

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