What We Found in Controversial Federal Court Nominee Steven Menashi’s Calendars

One the most potentially controversial judicial nominees since last summer’s nomination of Brett Kavanaugh is set to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday for his confirmation hearing.

White House lawyer Steven Menashi was nominated last month to the Second U.S. Court of Appeals, but his history of far-right commentary and his previous work as a top lawyer in Betsy DeVos’ Department of Education could set up a fight in Congress over the lifetime appointment. American Oversight obtained his calendars from his tenure at Education in 2017 and 2018, which show that his work closely aligned with DeVos’ conservative priorities regarding religion in education and weakening protections against sexual assault on campuses.

In November 2018, the Department of Education proposed new rules allowing for cross-examination of those involved in Title IX misconduct cases and reducing the responsibility of colleges to investigate allegations. From June 2017 through May 2018, Menashi’s calendars show 37 entries for meetings about Title IX, the federal statute prohibiting gender discrimination in education.

Menashi has been a frequent critic of women’s-rights activism and academic multiculturalism, according to CNN having written “dozens of editorials and blog posts in the late 1990s and early 2000s for a number of college and professional publications decrying ‘leftist multiculturalism’ and ‘PC orthodoxy.’” His calendars show multiple meetings about religion and “academic freedom,” including one with the socially conservative Alliance Defending Freedom.

Last September, Menashi took a position in the White House counsel’s office, where he was reportedly part of Senior Adviser Stephen Miller’s working group on immigration, the team behind many of the administration’s harshest immigration policies. The calendars that we obtained show numerous meetings with the White House throughout 2017 and 2018, as well as several meetings about “regulatory reform” and “welfare reform.”

“Menashi’s calendars shows a strong focus on advancing Secretary DeVos’ right-wing social agenda, from rolling back gender discrimination protections to promoting religiously affiliated schools,” American Oversight Executive Director Austin Evers told Yahoo News, which reported on the calendars.

On Tuesday, American Oversight filed Freedom of Information Act requests for Menashi’s communications with conservative groups and individuals, as well as with Miller and his allies. And earlier this week, we filed multiple requests as part of our investigation into DeVos’ ties to student loan servicers, asking for communications between the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Authority and Education officials, including Menashi.

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