Protesters Rally to Oppose Trump's 'Ethnonationalist' Circuit Court Nominee

Protesters gathered outside a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday morning to object to the confirmation of President Donald Trump's latest controversial judicial nominee Steve Menashi.

A group of activists could be heard chanting "Title IX is one the line" in a video posted to Twitter by NBC correspondent Frank Thorp. Menashi has frequently opposed laws promoting equality for women, the LGBTQ community and minorities.

Menashi was nominated by Trump in August to a lifetime appointment to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. The 40-year-old currently serves as the associate White House counsel and special assistant to the president.

The White House submitted Menashi's nomination to the Senate on Monday and the Senate Judiciary Committee immediately added his name to their agenda for Wednesday. The fast-turn around caused outrage from progressive groups, who railed against his past record.

Menashi has been under fire for dozens of editorials and blog posts he wrote in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Menashi criticized need-based financial aid, claiming it would hurt the wealthy and called recipients of such aid "grasshoppers." In October 2000, when Menashi was editor in chief of the Dartmouth Review, the college paper ran an editorial railing against women's marches and "Take Back the Night" rallies on college campuses. Another editorial from March 2001 appeared to compare affirmative action in college admissions to Nazi practices.

Menashi has also disparaged "ethnically heterogeneous societies" and argued that such societies "exhibit less political and civic engagement, less effective governing institutions, and few public goods." These comments prompted the Council on American-Islamic Relations to demand Trump withdraw Menashi's nomination and drew accusations that he was a white nationalist.

Roughly 150 protesters knocked on senators' office doors Tuesday in Washington D.C. to rally against Menashi's nomination, according to Huffpost. More than 10 people were arrested by Capitol Police during the demonstration, which was organized by progressive groups Demand Justice and the Center for Popular Democracy. Senators Chris Coons, Susan Collins, Thom Tillis and Mark Warner were all targeted by activists.

The protests carried on into Wednesday, during Menashi's closed-door hearing with the Senate Judiciary Committee. Alliance for Justice posted a photo of the protests on Twitter, writing that "people are lining the hallways outside Steven Menashi's hearing to make it clear: Menashi doesn't belong on the federal bench."

Democratic Senator Dick Durbin blasted Menashi during the hearing for dodging questions posed by lawmakers about his time and work in the Trump administration.

"It is inappropriate for you to seek this nomination. It is inappropriate for you to sit there and stonewall this committee and refuse to answer any questions about who you are and what you believe," Durbin said.

Republicans Lindsey Graham and John Kennedy also pressed Menashi for withholding answers.

"You're a really smart guy, but I wish you'd be more forthcoming," Kennedy said. "This isn't supposed to be a game.

steven menashi senate hearing trump court nominee
Steven J. Menashi, nominee to be a circuit judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, testifies during his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing in Dirksen Building on Wednesday, September 11, 2019. Progressive groups held protests outside Menashi's hearing. Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images
Protesters Rally to Oppose Trump's 'Ethnonationalist' Circuit Court Nominee | U.S.