4 Supreme Court justices attended celebration of powerful anti-LGBTQ legal group

The Supreme Court justices
The Supreme Court justices Photo: Fred Schilling, Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States

Four Republican-appointed Supreme Court justices reportedly attended a 40th-anniversary celebration for the Federalist Society, a conservative legal group that has helped pack U.S. courts with anti-LGBTQ judges who will serve for decades to come.

Justices Samuel Alito, Amy Coney Barrett, Neil Gorsuch, and Brett Kavanaugh, according to Associated Press reporter Mark Sherman, attended the event.

Justices have traditionally been expected to at least appear to be politically neutral. But their attendance at the political event illustrates the court’s continued rightward swing since overturning the right to legal abortion in June.

The four justices in attendance all voted in favor of overturning abortion rights (the fifth was fellow right-leaning Justice Clarence Thomas). Three of the justices — Barrett, Gorsuch, and Kavanaugh — were appointed by former President Donald Trump, considered by many to be the most anti-LGBTQ president of all time.

Sherman noted that the Federalist Society’s co-chair Leonard Leo helped Trump vet his judicial nominees. Though the group claims to be “independent of partisan politics,” it’s still closely aligned with Republican priorities.

A full 85 percent of Trump judges are members of the society, an ideological clearing house of conservative lawyers. Approval by the group practically guarantees that a judicial nominee it approves of will rule against LGBTQ rights on the bench. The Society has also had a stated goal of undoing what it calls the “Judicial Legacy of Barack Obama.”

The society has published articles criticizing California’s ban on conversion therapy and often writes defenses in favor of religious liberty exceptions to LGBTQ-inclusive civil rights legislation. Such exceptions would allow people to discriminate against LGBTQ people on the basis of sincerely held religious beliefs.

The Federalist Society’s website contains a discussion against same-sex marriage that accuses same-sex couples of being more promiscuous, calls gay adoption a “social experiment,” and worries that legalized same-sex marriage will harm religious people by “marginalizing those who believe homosexuality is immoral.”

Justice Thomas’s dissenting opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization – the ruling that ended the federal right to an abortion in June – suggested that the right to same-sex marriage should be overturned. If the Court makes that move, it will have the Federalist Society’s full approval.

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