In a rare move for a member of the president’s party, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) is urging President Trump to “reconsider” the nomination of Jeff Mateer to become a federal judge in Texas.
“I’ve advised the White House they ought to reconsider,” Grassley said when asked about Mateer and Brett Talley, another nominee to be a federal judge in Alabama. “I would advise the White House not to proceed.”
Mateer’s nomination has not yet been approved by the Judiciary Committee, as he has come under fire for past comments he made disparaging LGBTQ people. In several speeches given before right-wing religious groups, Mateer has defended bills that allow people to discriminate against LGBTQ people because of their personal objections to homosexuality, and has advocated for conversion therapy.
In a 2015 speech, titled “The Church and Homosexuality,” Mateer objected to a transgender student being allowed to use a restroom consistent with her gender identity, saying, “It just really shows you how Satan’s plan is working and the destruction that’s going on.” He also claimed that allowing same-sex couples to marry would lead to bigamy, polyamory, and bestiality.
Besides the content of the speech, Mateer is also receiving scrutiny from some senators, including his home state senator, John Cornyn (R-Texas), for not disclosing the speeches with the judicial evaluation committee after he was first nominated for the post.
Grassley’s decision to put the brakes on Mateer’s nomination is unique, particularly considering how quickly he has moved to seat other Trump judicial nominees, even those that have courted controversy or come under intense criticism from Democrats.
The Human Rights Campaign has previously listed Mateer on a list of five judicial nominees the organization wishes to see defeated.
“The Trump-Pence administration’s extreme judicial nominee, Jeff Mateer, has been repeatedly exposed as unfit and unqualified to serve. With Senator Grassley’s call for Trump to reconsider Mateer’s nomination, the writing is on the wall. Mateer has to go,” David Stacy, HRC’s government affairs director, said in a statement.
“Mateer has spent his career publicly voicing his contempt for LGBTQ people, opposing LGBTQ non-discrimination protections, and even attacking transgender children,” Stacy added. “As we have said from the beginning, the White House must immediately withdraw his nomination.”
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