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ICYMI: Ron Johnson Gleefully Confirmed Extreme Judges Who Support Taking Away Wisconsinites’ Rights & Freedoms

Sep 26, 2022

ICYMI: Ron Johnson Gleefully Confirmed Extreme Judges Who Support Taking Away Wisconsinites’ Rights & Freedoms

MADISON, Wis. — Last week, a new report detailed Ron Johnson’s long history of confirming judges that:

  • Worked to overturn Roe v. Wade and limit access to contraceptives
  • Restrict and roll back LGBTQ+ rights
  • Refused to affirm that the Brown v. Board of Education was the correct decision

UpNorthNews: Ron Johnson’s Judges: Hostile to Marriage Rights, Women’s Reproductive Freedom, and Unsure on Banning School Segregation

Key Points:

  • In light of the Dobbs decision by the US Supreme Court, Sen. Ron Johnson has flip-flopped and shifted his views on how to restrict women’s reproductive freedom, but he remains consistent in supporting the right-wing members’ decision to repeal Roe v. Wade in June.
  • “I’m fully supportive of what the Supreme Court did,” Johnson told the host of a right-wing radio show. “I obviously confirmed the justices that handed down that correct decision.”
  • While he may be happy to talk about the justices, it’s not clear if he shares the same enthusiasm for the positions taken by some of the judges he has voted to confirm over the years—with views that include opposition to same-sex marriage and the freedom to purchase contraceptives, and even hesitancy to agree that the historic Brown v. Board of Education decision that ended segregation in public schools was correctly decided.
  • Here are some of the judges who Johnson approved…and the actions and statements that indicate a record of hostility toward women, minorities, and LGBTQ rights.
  • Howard Nielson was confirmed on a near-party line 51-47 vote in 2019. All Senate Democrats and one Republican opposed his appointment because of his past work that helped pave the way for the US Justice Department—under George W. Bush—to condone torture.
  • Outside of government, Nielson has also done legal work in private practice aimed at ending same-sex marriage rights in California.
  • In 2020, he sentenced a Latter-day Saint bishop to 46 months of incarceration for possession of child pornography, near the bottom end of sentencing guidelines.
  • Matthew Kacsmaryk was confirmed on a near-party line vote.
  • As deputy general counsel for First Liberty Institute, a right-wing Christian advocacy group, Kacsmaryk opposed protections for LGBTQ people in employment, housing and health care, implying their concerns should not be taken as seriously as other forms of discrimination. He also called including protections for LGBTQ people in the Violence Against Women Act “a grave mistake.”
  • Kacsmaryk was sharply critical of Obergefell v. Hodges, the 2015 US Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage.
  • Wendy Vitter was confirmed on a near-party line vote. All Senate Democrats and one Republican opposed her appointment, in part because she would not offer a direct answer on whether she thought Brown v. Board had been correctly decided.
  • Vitter was also criticized for her failure to include on background disclosure forms her past comments on abortion, including the false claim that Planned Parenthood killed more than 150,000 women a year.
  • Allen Winsor was confirmed on a near-party line vote. Winsor opposed the contraceptive coverage requirement in the Affordable Care Act, claiming corporations are “persons” with religious rights and should not have to abide by a requirement to cover their female employees.
  • Brantley Starr was confirmed on a party line vote in 2019. In 2017, he defended a Texas law imposing criminal penalties on doctors who provide abortion care.
  • Starr has also advocated against legalizing same-sex marriage and has testified in support of legislation intended to protect state-funded adoption agencies that discriminate against LGBTQ couples.
  • Stephen Clark was confirmed in 2019 on a near-party line vote. All Senate Democrats except Manchin opposed Clark’s appointment, as the judge had compared same-sex marriage to polygamy and compared Roe v. Wade to the Dred Scott decision.
  • He also opposed the Affordable Care Act’s requirement to cover birth control, saying “there is no reason to believe that women are carrying an inequitable burden when it comes to the costs of contraceptives.”
  • At least two other judges confirmed by Johnson have refused to say if they would support the school segregation outlawed by Brown.

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