Here they go again.
Just two weeks ago, two Republican senators — Rand Paul and Mitt Romney — turned a hearing to confirm the Secretary of Education into a lesson in transphobia. They challenged Dr. Miguel Cardona on his support of transgender female athletes to compete with cisgender girls and women.
Today, Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana played the same card at the confirmation hearing for Judge Merrick Garland, President Biden’s choice to lead the Department of Justice.
For his last question, Sen. Kennedy asked Judge Garland whether he agreed with a statement that was loaded with anti-transgender language.
“In my last 20 seconds, I’m gonna ask you if you agree with this statement: Uh. ‘Allowing’ — and I’m not suggesting you answer one way or another, I just want to know what you believe — ‘Allowing biological males to compete in an all-female sport deprives women of the opportunity to participate fully and fairly in sports and is fundamentally unfair to female athletes.’”
Judge Garland sighed, and then started to answer before he was interrupted by the Republican.
“This is a very difficult societal question that you’re asking me,” Garland began, “I know what underlies it.”
“I know, but you’re going to be Attorney General,” Kennedy said, smiling.
Smiling as well, Garland responded swiftly: “Oh, but I may not be the one who has to make policy decisions like that, not that I’m averse to it,” he said. “Look: I think every human being should be treated with dignity and respect.”
The judge paused, and then put his hand over his heart.
“That’s an overriding sense of my own character, but an overriding sense of what the law requires,” he said, pausing again. “The particular question of how Title IX applies in schools is one, in light of the Bostock case, which I know you’re very familiar with, is something I would have to look at, when I have a chance to do that. I’ve not had the chance to consider these kinds of cases in my career so far. But I agree this is a difficult question.”
Garland avoided calling trans girls and trans women the transphobic term, “biological males,” which American Civil Liberties Union attorney Chase Strangio has made clear was coined solely to oppress transgender people.
The Bostock case Garland referred to was last summer’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that provided guarantees to the LGBTQ community that we cannot be discriminated against in matters of employment. Legal scholars have debated whether that right could be applied beyond employment, but writing for the majority, Justice Neil Gorsuch — who filled the seat that President Barack Obama had nominated Garland to fill — seems to have answered that question: “Whether other policies and practices might or might not qualify as unlawful discrimination or find justifications under other provisions of Title VII are questions for future cases, not these.”
Watch Garland’s testimony about trans athletes in his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee by clicking here:
At other points in the hearing, Judge Garland declared he was not the president’s lawyer.
According to The New York Times, Garland also said that he would restore the mission of the department’s civil rights division, which during the Trump administration removed protections for transgender Americans and minorities, and eliminated policies intended to fight systemic discrimination.
“Communities of color and other minorities still face discrimination in housing, education, employment and the criminal justice system,” Garland said.
As for efforts to “defund” local police departments given the systemic history of injustice against Black people by officers. Garland said that he agreed with President Biden and would not “support defunding the police.”