Most Americans don’t spend a lot of time thinking about this country’s court system. If you’re lucky, you don’t have a lot of direct contact with the courts. The most privileged among us don’t even really have to think about it. The judicial system is like a sewer system: if it’s working okay then it’s largely out-of-sight out-of-mind. But when it gets clogged up with garbage everybody is sorry they didn’t take better care of it and check on it sooner.
And clogging our courts up with garbage is just what Donald Trump is doing. He’s outsourced the judge-picking to far right groups who have been giving him names of extremists that he is dutifully nominating. They are unfit for the bench, but when you’re the president, they let you do it.
One of these nominees is Jeff Mateer who has been nominated for a lifetime seat on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. And he is a nightmare.
In a video put together by the People for the American Way, Mateer calls homosexuality “the elephant in the room” and bemoaned “the agenda that this small group is seeking and imposing on the rest of us.”
“I’ve read the 14th Amendment thousands of times,” he says in a recording. “I don’t see anything about right to same sex marriage; I don’t see anything saying right to homosexuality, I don’t see anything about right to privacy.”
No doubt he thinks it perfectly all right to tell a lesbian couple, “We’re not going to rent to you” or refusing to make a cake for a gay couple’s wedding citing religious freedom.
He also believes in so-called “reparative therapy,” which has been thoroughly debunked by medical experts but is still embraced by those who believe that you can just “pray the gay away.”
The worst is what he has to say about transgender kids and their audacity to fight for the right to use the restroom at school.
Mara Keisling, the executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, isn’t having it. “How dare he?” Keisling asks. “How dare anyone talk about children this way?
Republicans have been rubber stamping Trump’s nominees. The Democrats are opposing them, but they are in the minority.
In a letter signed by 278 parents of transgender children from 36 states, Mateer is encouraged to apologize and invited to withdraw his nomination. Of course, that’s like imploring the fox to be nice to the chickens now that he has the key to the coop. The radical right doesn’t exactly have a history of showing mercy to LGBTQ people.
Elections have consequences. And when Trump is finally gone his legacy will live on in conservative anti-LGBTQ judges across the country and in the Supreme Court that will shape the legal landscape for generations to come. Some of the battles we thought we won will have to be fought again. The most effective weapon against this? Vote.