WASHINGTON DC, January 5, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The Trump Administration has already established a sterling record of solid judicial nominees, and his nomination of Howard C. Nielson, Jr. to the federal bench continues that trajectory.
The Washington, DC attorney, who has yet to be confirmed by the Senate, has come under fire for saying that gay judges shouldn’t hear cases involving issues that affect the LGBT community.
Nielson first came to national attention when he served as one of the attorneys for the plaintiffs in Hollingsworth v. Perry, better known as the “Proposition 8” case. In 2008, California voters approved a constitutional amendment temporarily banning same-sex “marriage” in the state. Nielson was on the team that sought to defend the measure in court.
When the chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California ruled that Prop. 8 violated the United States Constitution, Nielson filed a motion to nullify the ruling, arguing that the judge, Vaughn Walker, should have recused himself because he was in a long-term gay relationship. Walker had waited until after issuing his decision to make his sexual orientation public. Nielson asserted that Judge Walker “had a duty to disclose not only the facts concerning his relationship, but also his marriage intentions.”
Nielson went further, saying only if Walker “unequivocally disavowed any interest in marrying his partner could the parties and the public be confident that he did not have a direct personal interest in the outcome.”
Nielson’s motion was denied by another district court judge and the Prop. 8 case eventually made its way to the United States Supreme Court, where the Justices ruled in support of Judge Walker’s decision.
That case paved the way for the Obergefell ruling by the Supreme Court two years later, legalizing same-sex “marriage” across the country.
Neilson’s Nomination Set Off Progressive Alarm Bells
Perhaps the greatest measure of Nielson’s qualification for the federal bench comes from the magnitude of the alarm his nomination has raised among progressives.
The pro-LGBT Human Rights Campaign (HRC) website announced today in bold capital letters, “SHOCKER! ANOTHER ANTI-LGBTQ JUDICIAL NOMINEE FROM TRUMP.” The HRC AM Tipsheet continued, “Nielson is just the latest in a long line of extreme and unqualified anti-LGBTQ officials Donald Trump and Mike Pence have appointed and nominated to crucial agencies and court benches — some of whom will serve lifetime appointments.”
The LGBT publication, The Advocate, said that Neilson is just “the latest in a string of problematic judicial nominees.”
And the very left-leaning judicial watchdog group, Alliance for Justice, declared that Nielson’s nomination “raises red flags” because, in part, “in taking a leading role in the effort to prohibit same-sex marriage in California,” Nielson, “argued that a federal judge should be disqualified from hearing the case solely because he was gay.”
Early in his career Mr. Nielson served as a law clerk to United States Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy. He went on to serve in the Department of Justice as Counsel to the Attorney General, supervising high profile litigation.
In 2003 Neilson was appointed Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel, providing legal opinions and informal advice to the White House, the Attorney General, and Executive Branch Departments and Agencies.
“President Trump has made an outstanding choice to fill the vacancy on Utah's federal District Court,” said Utah Senator Orrin Hatch. “Howard Nielson is a first-rate talent with broad experience and a commitment to the rule of law. He has sterling credentials and a solid reputation in the legal community.
“President Trump promised to make judicial nominations a priority for his administration, and today, he continued delivering on that promise,” added the Utah Senator. “I applaud the White House for selecting such an exceptional nominee and look forward to working with my Senate colleagues to see Howard confirmed.”