American Oversight sued the Department of Education today for failing to release documents that may shed light on the work of Trump appointee Steven Menashi, whom the president has nominated to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals Second Circuit.
Menashi’s confirmation has reportedly stalled because of concerns not just over his stonewalling of Senate Judiciary Committee questioning during his confirmation hearing last month, but also because of his controversial past writing on issues like gender and ethnonationalism.
Menashi serves as a special assistant and senior associate counsel to the president, and served as acting general counsel for the Department of Education before moving to the White House. Republican senators joined their Democratic colleagues in expressing concerns after his contentious confirmation hearing, with Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham criticizing Menashi for failing to respond to questions from Sen. Dianne Feinstein. Sen. John Kennedy said he would not vote to confirm until Menashi provided a clear picture of his legal thinking.
“The public and the Senate deserve an unobstructed look at Menashi’s background,” said Austin Evers, executive director of American Oversight. “His documented history of bigotry and illiberal thinking requires that his nomination receive maximum scrutiny. Menashi’s decision to stonewall before the committee requires that his track record be brought to light through litigation.”
In college and in graduate school, Menashi wrote several offensive and condemnable opinion pieces, in which he referred to anti-rape advocates as “campus gynocentrists,” denounced LGBTQ rights organizations, attacked need-based financial aid, and argued, in a piece titled “Ethnonationalism and Liberal Democracy,” that “democracy can’t work unless the country is defined by a unifying race.”
American Oversight’s suit seeks to compel the release of documents requested through the Freedom of Information Act related to Menashi’s work at the Department of Education. The requested documents include emails between Menashi and right-wing groups, including men’s rights activists and anti-immigrant organizations. American Oversight has also requested any communications between Menashi and White House senior adviser Stephen Miller; any emails that may shed light on his involvement in policy regarding the enrollment of undocumented students in public schools; and documents related to his ethics pledge and potential conflicts of interests.
The complaint can be found below.
Part of Investigation: