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Confirmation of Steven Menashi to Federal Appeals Court 'Should Send Shockwaves Across America'

Approval of Trump nominee called "disturbing," "offensive," and "another dark day" for nation's judicial system.

Steven J. Menashi testifies during his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing for a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on September 11, 2019. (Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

Civil rights advocates on Thursday condemned the Senate's confirmation of Steven Menashi to the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, characterizing him as among the most extreme of all the far-right judicial nominees put forward for lifetime appointments by President Donald Trump.

Menashi was confirmed by a 51-41 vote, largely along party lines, with Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) voting against him with Democrats.

Nan Aron, executive director of Alliance for Justice (AFJ) said Menashi's confirmed appointment represented "another dark day for our judiciary."

"This vote is nothing short of an attack on the tens of thousands of teachers, students, workers, civil rights advocates, consumers, and countless others who made clear that Menashi was not fit for a lifetime appointment," Aron said. "AFJ is proud to stand with those who spoke out and we will continue to call out Senators when they vote to stack the federal bench with ideologues set on rolling back the constitutional protections so many Americans hold dear."

Menashi's confirmation flipped the bench in the Republicans' favor and sent a fifth Trump nominee to the court which could ultimately decide whether the president's financial records must be released.

During his confirmation hearing in September, Menashi was denounced by rights advocates and lawmakers when he refused to answer many questions from senators regarding his work in Trump's Department of Education and at the White House.

Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee wrote to Menashi asking about his involvement in and knowledge of Trump's July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, which is at the center of the impeachment hearings against Trump. Menashi did not respond.

"Republicans have abdicated their constitutional responsibility by confirming Menashi even though he refused to answer many critical questions," Christopher Kang, chief counsel of the advocacy group Demand Justice, said Thursday. "Stonewalling the Senate is now a viable path to confirmation. Even more troubling is the fact that Republicans voted to promote a man who may have helped orchestrate the coverup of the Ukraine scandal. This is a startling reminder of how far they will go to protect Trump and to corrupt our courts."

Critics on social media condemned Republicans for confirming a nominee with a history of bigoted statements toward women, the LGBTQ community, and ethnic minorities.

While Menashi served as acting general counsel at Trump's Department of Education, the agency rolled back Title IX protections for LGBTQ students, racial minorities, and sexual assault survivors.

Manashi's past writings include attacks on so-called "campus gynocentrists" who staged "Take Back the Night" rallies when Menashi was in college; claims that LGBTQ rights advocates focused too much on the murder of Matthew Shepherd while ignoring murders committed by gay men; and a statement that liberal democracies should give preference to immigrants of certain ethnicities because "ethnic ties provide the groundwork for social trust and political solidarity."

"This was a civil rights vote, and senators who voted for Menashi have failed," wrote Vanita Gupta, president of the Leadership Conference for Civil and Human Rights. "They have failed their constituents, failed our judiciary, and failed the nation.The attack on the federal bench is a deeply consequential and long-lasting assault on civil rights. We can't forget it."

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