WASHINGTON ― More than a year into his presidency, Donald Trump is making the nation’s courts look a lot more like him: white, male and straight.
To date, Trump has nominated 87 people to be judges with lifetime tenure on U.S. district courts, circuit courts or the Supreme Court. Eighty of them are white, or nearly 92 percent. One is black, one is Latino and five are Asian or Pacific American. He hasn’t nominated any Native American judges.
Put another way:
The president also keeps nominating men. Sixty-seven of his court picks are male, compared to 20 who are female.
That translates to about 77 percent being men:
Trump hasn’t nominated any openly LGBTQ people to the federal courts.
It’s even more apparent how homogenous Trump’s picks are when compared to his recent predecessors. A Congressional Research Service analysis looked at the first 26 district and circuit court nominees from the last four presidents: Bill Clinton’s were 73 percent white, George W. Bush’s were 81 percent white, Barack Obama’s were 46 percent white, and Trump’s were 96 percent white.
Advocates for a more diverse federal bench say it’s crucial that the nation’s courts reflect the demographics of the populations they serve.
“People of color, LGBT individuals and women can supply effective, nuanced ‘outsider’ perspectives and insights about critical questions regarding abortion, criminal law, employment discrimination and related complicated issues,” said Carl Tobias, a University of Richmond law professor and expert on the federal judicial nomination process.
Brad Berry, general counsel for the NAACP, called Trump’s court picks “troubling.”
“The varied life experiences that judges bring to the bench quite often inform their views on the questions presented to them for decision,” Berry said. “It is for that reason that diversity on the bench ― racial, ethnic and gender ― is so critically important to the fair operation of our judicial system and, equally important, to the perception of fairness in that system.”
In addition to being overwhelmingly white, male and straight, Trump’s court picks are very conservative. Some have records of being hostile to the voting rights of black people. Others have records of being incredibly anti-LGBTQ. A number of them have argued against women’s reproductive rights.
Members of the Congressional Black Caucus have been criticizing the president for months over his judicial nominees. Not only has he selected just one black person to be a judge ― Terry Moorer, a nominee to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama ― but he has infuriated civil rights leaders with another nominee, Thomas Farr, who defended North Carolina’s voter suppression law and racially discriminatory gerrymandering.
“Because African-Americans have always been disproportionately affected by federal court decisions, the Congressional Black Caucus is virtually obligated to investigate the fairness of the federal judiciary, no matter who is president,” Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) said during a caucus forum in January on judicial diversity.
“These lifetime appointments will have monumental impacts on the future of the nation and on all Americans, none more so than on African-Americans and others seeking an equal place in our country,” she said.
HuffPost reached out to the White House to ask why Trump keeps nominating white men to be judges, and if he plans to nominate more diverse people going forward.
Spokesman Hogan Gidley said their nominees have all been wonderful.
“The President has delivered on his promise to nominate excellent judges, beginning with Justice Gorsuch, and he will continue nominating outstanding candidates,” Gidley said. “We appreciate the hard work of [Senate Judiciary Committee] Chairman [Chuck] Grassley and [Senate Majority] Leader [Mitch] McConnell, and we urge the Senate to confirm all of the remaining nominees because it’s what the American people deserve.”
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