A Texan nominated by President Donald Trump for a federal judgeship could face tougher confirmation questioning from Senate Democrats later this year because of 2015 remarks on transgender children.
Jeff Mateer, a top official in the Texas Attorney General's Office, is Trump's pick for a lifetime federal judgeship. But recently released transcripts of Mateer's old speeches have sparked a controversy.
Mateer reportedly said in 2015 that transgender children were part of “Satan’s plan,” and claimed that legalized same-sex marriage would lead to “disgusting” forms of marriage, including bestiality and polygamy, the Texas Tribune reported.
Now the top Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committe, which will rule on Mateer's nomination, are considering kicking up a storm during his confirmation hearing. U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., suggested Thursday that her party would spare no one during Mateer’s hearing, the Dallas Morning News reported.
“There’s no question these views cast serious doubt on his ability to fairly enforce federal law and treat people impartially,” Feinstein said in a statement. She was joined by fellow Democrat Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, who slammed Mateer as a “new low” and “not normal” judicial candidate.
“Republicans have lowered the standard for federal judges to get ones who will pass their ideological test: opposition to sensible gun laws, hostility to women's reproductive rights, commitment to protecting political dark money, and disregard for public health and safety protections,” Whitehouse said, according to the Dallas newspaper.
“One even called a Supreme Court Justice a 'judicial prostitute,' but Jeff Mateer, who calls transgender children part of 'Satan's plan,' is a new low. This is just not normal," he added.
Some speculated that Mateer's remarks about transgender people and same-sex marriage were not known to the Texas Federal Judicial Evaluation Committee (FJEC) until after media reports surfaced.
LGBTQ advocacy groups have urged the White House to rescind the nomination. Some said Mateer’s nomination was the “latest slap in the face with respect to the LGBT community,” according to a statement by Lambda Legal on Wednesday.
But not everyone believes Mateer’s ultra-conservative views will derail his nomination. FJEC Vice Chair Raul Gonzales acknowledged he was not informed about Mateer's past statements, but added that he believes Mateer can remain impartial during court cases ad not be guided by personal views.
“I trust Jeff's judgment that he would make a decision -- not on personal views, but on the facts and the law of the case before him," Gonzales said, adding that Mateer was a personal friend of his, the Dallas Morning News reported.
FJEC Chair David Prichard would not comment on the Mateer nomination.
“What my personal views are just don't play a part of it," he said. "He's got a First Amendment right to express his views, and then those are going to come under scrutiny — as they should.”