Say It Louder Biden should nominate more Black and Brown LGBTQ+ judges
Kyle C. Velte is an associate professor at the University of Kansas School of Law, specializing in the intersection of sexuality, gender and the law. Follow on Twitter: @KyleVelte
In defending Merrick Garland as his pick for what would become a failed Supreme Court nomination in 2016, then-President Barack Obama quipped that at no point had he said, "Oh, you know what? I need a Black lesbian from Skokie in that slot. Can you find me one?" That’s just not how he approached it, he said. But perhaps he should have.
Efforts to diversify the federal bench have focused more on appointing women and people of color and less on LGBTQ people. While Obama appointed 10 LGBTQ judges, today only 11 of the 870 federal judges identify as LGBTQ – 1% of sitting judges (compared with 4.5% of the U.S. population that identifies as LGBTQ). There has never been an openly LGBTQ woman on a federal court of appeals or an openly LGBTQ Supreme Court justice.
President Joe Biden should deliberately seek to increase the number of federal judges from the LGBTQ community by embracing intersectionality, a term coined 30 years ago by law professor Kimberlé Crenshaw to describe how systems of oppression converge to marginalize people along several axes of their identity. Intersectionality explains why a white lesbian and a Latinx lesbian experience discrimination in different ways: Sexism and homophobia overlap to oppress the former; sexism, homophobia and racism overlap to oppress the latter.
It’s no coincidence that African American LGBTQ activist Pauli Murray served as a strategist in both the racial justice and women’s rights movements, both of which laid the groundwork for the LGBTQ movement.
Biden has already declared that he will nominate a Black woman to fill the next Supreme Court vacancy and has promised to nominate judges for all levels of the federal judiciary who have demonstrated civil rights bona fides. Of course, Black women are intersectional in their embodiment of raceXgender.
Read the story on USA Today
Speaking Of… Celebrate Pride Month with an allyship training
June 17 at 12 Noon PST. Register >
More of This Sonia Sotomayor calls our Kavanaugh for breaking his promise to death row inmates
The Supreme Court turned away an appeal on Monday brought by a man who faces the very real possibility of being tortured to death. Missouri intends to execute Ernest Johnson, who was sentenced to death in 1994, using pentobarbital; due to Johnson’s unique medical condition, the drug may inflict excruciating agony as he dies. Just two years ago, the court’s conservative majority—including, most prominently, Justice Brett Kavanaugh—suggested that an inmate in this exact situation could demand a different, less painful execution.
Johnson did precisely what Kavanaugh asked, asking that Missouri kill him by firing squad instead of lethal injection. Yet Kavanaugh and his five conservative colleagues ignored his plea on Monday, condemning Johnson to a death that may be violent and prolonged. In her pointed dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor highlighted her colleague’s perverse retreat from his earlier promise. It appears that Sotomayor, like Justice Elena Kagan, is fed up with Kavanaugh’s habit of posturing as a moderate, then voting like a reactionary. When the stakes are low, Kavanaugh knows how to sound like a reasonable, empathetic centrist. But when an actual person’s rights are on the line, Kavanaugh’s vote is nowhere to be found.
Read the story on Slate
More of This Too California’s first Filipino AG is going after racist policing
A month after taking over as California attorney general, Rob Bonta has put the Department of Justice on a hard pivot, launching a series of initiatives to refocus the agency on problems inside the state after it spent four years fighting the Trump administration on national issues.
In the last few weeks, Bonta has announced the creation of a Racial Justice Bureau to combat hate crimes and biased policing, financial help to local law enforcement agencies struggling with a backlog of untested rape evidence kits and expanded the Bureau of Environmental Justice to better target polluters.
Bonta has also taken action to make the department more transparent, reversing a prior policy that had withheld some records on police officer misconduct, and he set aside a Justice Department proposal to withhold gun enforcement data from researchers. The new attorney general also says he is working on the creation of a new unit to investigate fatal police shootings of unarmed civilians.
Bonta’s barrage of proposals comes after more cautious and slow starts on state issues by his predecessors Xavier Becerra and Kamala Harris, who is now the vice president. Becerra’s early days were mostly spent announcing lawsuits against the Trump administration.
Read the story on LA Times
Watch This Why are Black people 3x less likely to be granted parole?
This is a recording of a special collaboration between ChangeLawyers and UnCommon Law.
June 10 at 4 PM PST. Register >
June 22 at 12 Noon PST. Register >
June 30 at 12 Noon PST. Register >