Friday 3/23 – A “NO” that counts double! – an inappropriate nominee AND a NRA favorite!


We’ve talked about Howard Nielson before…one more of the seemingly endless supply of  reactionary hard-right candidates the Trump administration has loaded up, ready to take over lifetime appointments in our court system.

Pay attention to what he’s done. Not what he says…

  • Anti-LGBTQ+: Nielson defended the anti-LGBTQ Proposition 8 in California by arguing that the federal judge hearing the case should be disqualified for being gay. His bigoted motion to disqualify the judge was denied. During the court case, he put forth the arguments that same-sex attraction was a choice and that LGBTQ individuals were not discriminated against. He also wrote an amicus brief against Obergefell v. Hodges, the case that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide.
  • Politicized the DoJ: In 2002, Nielson participated in the illegal politicization of the hiring process for civil servants at the Justice Department by screening out left-leaning candidates for openings. In a report regarding this, he inspector general added, “the problem was not necessarily with the law. The problem was with the application of the law by the people in the Department of Justice, which is very troubling that the Department of Justice would not adhere to the law.”
  • Pro-Torture: Nielson’s involvement with issues of torture and executive power must be fully disclosed. He worked under Steven Bradbury (the architect of the Bush-era torture regime and a recently-confirmed Trump administration lawyer) during the George W. Bush administration, and assisted Bradbury in crafting the legal rationale to justify torture of detainees. Nielson’s argument that the US could torture people as long as they weren’t physically in the US caused Betty Van Schaack, former Deputy to the Ambassador-at-large for War Crimes, to say that his

    “erroneous legal reasoning and conclusions” were so flawed that the memo should be “add[ed] . . . to the Legal Scrapheap.” 

  • Anti-Affirmative Action: Nielson advocated for a Michigan ballot proposal to end affirmative action policies at state universities
  • Fossil Fuel Advocate: Nielson has fought efforts to protect the environment. In 2014, Nielson represented congressional Republicans who sued the EPA to stop its plan to reduce carbon pollution. Had he prevailed at the time, carbon pollution from large-scale industries like power plants and oil refineries, which account for 83 percent of such emissions, would have gone unchecked.
  • Anti-Women’s Rights: Nielson co-authored an amicus brief in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, 136 S. Ct. 2292 (2016), arguing that the Supreme Court should uphold restrictive abortion regulations in Texas. These regulations required that all outpatient abortion providers meet untenable standards that would have shut down many women’s health facilities, making it incredibly difficult

    for women in Texas to safely access abortion providers. The Supreme Court disagreed with Nielson, finding that the Texas regulations were unduly burdensome and violated the Constitution.

Now let’s get to just his gun issues…

  • Anti-Common-sense Gun laws: Nielson has routinely positioned himself on the far-right fringe of the gun debate. He has argued that state bans on people under 21 purchasing handguns or publicly carrying firearms are unconstitutional, and that cities should not be able to ban semiautomatic rifles and large-capacity magazines.
  • Expanded the 2nd amendment scope: While in a key position within George W. Bush’s Justice Department, Nielson authored a legal memo in 2004 that argued for an unprecedented, expansive interpretation of the Second Amendment. The Supreme Court adopted his framework, and to this day it’s harder for states to take measures to prevent gun violence.


Despite all this, Neilson has passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on a straight party-line vote and now is headed to the full Senate floor. Please share your distaste for this anti-American nominee with both of your Senators.

Minimal Script: I’m calling from [zip code] and I want Sen. [___] to vote “NO” on appointing Howard Nielson to any position of power, much less a lifetime appointment to the US District Court for the District of Utah.

More script if you want it: His position on gun law is out of step with the majority of Americans, even NRA members, who support common-sense restrictions on gun use. His other positions are also apalling and counter-productive to an inclusive and productive 21st century country.

Contact your Legislators

Senator Feinstein: DC (202) 224-3841, LA (310) 914-7300, SF (415) 393-0707, SD (619) 231-9712, Fresno (559) 485-7430
and Senator Harris: DC (202) 224-3553, LA (213) 894-5000, SAC (916) 448-2787, Fresno (559) 497-5109, SF (415) 355-9041, SD (619) 239-3884
Other Rep./Senator Contacts:

Here’s an awesome reference that helps us keep track of these rascals.


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