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WASHINGTON, DC — Today, despite bipartisan opposition, the full Senate voted to confirm Trump nominee “ethnonationalist” Steven Menashi for a lifetime seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, putting him in a prime position to rule on cases regarding our health and rights at a time when attacks on abortion, reproductive health care, and immigrant communities are on the rise.

Statement from Jacqueline Ayers, Vice President of Government Relations & Public Policy, Planned Parenthood Federation of America:

“Today’s vote by the Senate to confirm a federal judge who proudly defends ethnonationalism should disturb any person who believes all Americans deserve the right to equal protection under the law.

“The list of reasons why Steven Menashi should never have been nominated, let alone seriously considered, for a lifetime position to our courts is staggering. He believes that certain ethnicities make better citizens at a time when white supremacy is fueling rising acts of racial violence. He has supported policies that are overwhelmingly racist, sexist, homophobic, and Islamophobic. He has spent his career attacking sexual and reproductive health care.

“While Menashi’s shameful record may have been ignored by Republican senators, Planned Parenthood will never stop fighting for our reproductive freedom no matter who sits on the federal bench.”

Over the past several months, Planned Parenthood strongly urged the Senate to oppose Steven Menashi’s nomination. Menashi was appointed as part of the immigration working group to advance the administration’s racist immigration policies, including banning Muslims and separating immigrant children from their parents. He has written that it is beneficial for countries to “privilege the immigration and citizenship of particular ethnic groups.”

Menashi argued against the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive coverage policy, opposed access to emergency contraception for college students, referred to abortion rights as “radical,” and closely associated himself with anti-abortion group, the Federalist Society. As Betsy DeVos’ right-hand man, he helped roll back Title IX protections against discrimination of women and girls in educational institutions. He currently serves as associate counsel to President Trump and is a former top lawyer at the Department of Education under Secretary DeVos.

Additional Background on Menashi:

  • Menashi has defended the right of employers to block their employees from receiving birth control coverage guaranteed by the Affordable Care Act. He helped author an amicus brief in Zubik v. Burwell arguing that the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive coverage policy forced certain religious groups into “moral complicity,” comparing paying for insurance coverage of contraceptives to serving as an unarmed getaway car driver during a bank robbery.
  • During his time as editor-in-chief of the Dartmouth Review, Menashi authored several anti-abortion and anti-women articles, including pieces that opposed the university’s decision to make emergency contraception available via campus health services; criticized campaigns aimed at supporting survivors of sexual assault and dismissed discrimination against women writ large; and referred to Roe vs. Wade as “radical abortion rights.” He is also a former member of the anti-abortion Federalist Society, which funded his fellowship at Georgetown University Law Center.
  • In his role as acting general counsel of the Department of Education, he helped roll back protections for sexual assault and harrassment victims and survivors on college campuses, allowing schools to use a survivor’s sexual history against them in investigations/court and allowing them to be cross-examined by the accused. Menashi has also argued that it is unconstitutional for schools to comply with anti-discrimination protections if such protections “violated the schools asserted religious beliefs or practices.”
  • Menashi has argued that “ethnonationalism” — a belief that nations are defined by a shared ethnicity — is  a “common and accepted” feature of democracies. Further, he argued that countries should use their immigration laws “to establish a desired demographic balance” and that this is “most crucial for nation-states in which the dominant ethnic group is in danger of losing its majority status.” He claims that “ethnically heterogeneous societies exhibit less political and civic engagement, less effective governing institutions, and fewer public goods."

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Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With more than 600 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives.

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