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Coalition of Civil Rights Groups Urge the Senate to Reject Anti-LGBTQ Judicial Nominee

Wednesday Sep 13, 2017
Michigan Supreme Court Justice Joan Larsen
Michigan Supreme Court Justice Joan Larsen   (Source:AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File)

Citing a history of anti-LGBTQ actions, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights issued a statement on Tuesday urging the Senate to reject the confirmation of Trump nominee Joan Larsen for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

The Leadership Conference writes that as a justice on the Michigan Supreme Court, Larsen voted against hearing an appeal by a lesbian mother who sought parental visitation from an ex-spouse with whom she lived before the Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry and to marital benefits.

"Justice Larsen's unwillingness to apply the constitutional principles of Obergefell in order to address the effects of Michigan's unconstitutional ban on same-sex marriage is troubling," the statement read.

Moreover, the Leadership Conference made note of Larsen's restrictive views of LGBTQ rights in her writing.

In 2004, she wrote an article that criticized the Supreme Court's important decision in Lawrence v. Texas, which struck down as unconstitutional state laws that criminalized intimate same-sex conduct.

The Leadership Conference also raised concerns about Larsen's association with the far-right wing anti-LGBTQ Federalist Society and President Trump's pledge to use the bench to curtail abortion rights and ease gun restrictions.

"[D]uring last year's presidential campaign, Mr. Trump created unseemly litmus tests and expressly stated he would only appoint Supreme Court justices who opposed abortion rights and gun safety laws," the statement read. "Asked in the third presidential debate if his Supreme Court appointees would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, candidate Trump said: 'If we put another two or perhaps three justices on, that is really what will happen. That will happen automatically in my opinion. Because I am putting pro-life justices on the court.' In the same debate, he stated: 'I'm very proud to have the endorsement of the NRA and it was the earliest endorsement they've ever given to anybody who ran for president....  We are going to appoint justices that will feel very strongly about the second amendment.' One can assume that Justice Larsen - who joined the Federalist Society in 1994 - passes these litmus tests.

Among the 200 national organizations represented in The Leadership Conference on Civil and Hum­­­­an Rights are LGBTQ organizations the Human Rights Campaign, PFLAG, Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), the National Center for Lesbian Rights, the National LGBTQ Task Force, Lambda Legal, Immigration Equality and the National Center for Transgender Equality.

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