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LA County native Leondra Kruger may be nominee for U.S. Supreme Court

If nominated and confirmed, Kruger would be not only the first Black woman on the court, but also the youngest justice

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Leondra R. Kruger, (R) keynote speaker at Tom Homann LGBT Law Association meeting 2019 (Photo credit: THLA)

By Amy Howe | WASHINGTON – During a 2020 Democratic presidential primary debate, then-candidate Joe Biden pledged that, if elected, he would nominate a Black woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. With Justice Stephen Breyer expected to retire at the end of this term, California Supreme Court Justice Leondra Kruger is one of the frontrunners to succeed him.

If nominated and confirmed, Kruger – who is just 45 years old – would be not only the first Black woman on the court, but also the youngest justice by over four years and the youngest justice confirmed since Clarence Thomas joined the court in 1991 at age 43. Despite her relative youth, Kruger would bring substantial experience at the high court, with 12 Supreme Court arguments under her belt, as well as a seven-year record on the California Supreme Court that resembles the record of the justice she would replace.

Early life and career

A native of southern California, Kruger is the daughter of two physicians. Her mother hails from Jamaica, while her late father was the son of Jewish immigrants from eastern Europe. Kruger attended the prestigious Polytechnic School, a private prep school in Pasadena, California, whose other alumni include Julia Child and James Ho, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit who was on former President Donald Trump’s short list to fill a Supreme Court vacancy.

After graduating from Polytechnic, Kruger compiled the kind of sterling resume the public has come to expect from Supreme Court nominees. She graduated with honors from Harvard University, where she was a reporter for the Harvard Crimson. Kruger covered a wide range of stories, including a hearing on Cambridge’s affirmative-action policy, the 1994 Senate race between the late Sen. Edward Kennedy and Mitt Romney, and a travel guide to her hometown of Pasadena that humorously dismissed East Coast stereotypes about catastrophes in California (“Earthquakes! Fires! Mudslides! Riots!”) as “only jealousy.”

After Harvard, Kruger went to Yale Law School, where she was the editor in chief of the Yale Law Journal – the first Black woman to hold that job. During law school, Kruger spent one summer as an intern for the U.S. attorney in Los Angeles and a second summer as a summer associate at Munger, Tolles & Olson. After graduating from Yale in 2001, she spent a year working as an associate at Jenner & Block in Washington, D.C., before going to clerk for Judge David Tatel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit from 2002 to 2003. Kruger went from the D.C. Circuit to the Supreme Court, where she clerked for Justice John Paul Stevens during the 2003-04 term.

When Kruger finished her clerkships, she went into private practice at a third firm, now known as WilmerHale. During her two years there, her clients included Shell Oil, which Kruger represented in an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit involving a half-billion-dollar judgment in a Nicaraguan court against Shell and others, as well as Verizon Communications, which Kruger represented in federal district court in California in litigation challenging the participation by telecommunications companies in the government’s domestic-terrorist surveillance program. Kruger left WilmerHale for the University of Chicago Law School, where she taught a class in transnational litigation as a visiting assistant professor.

A stint in the Obama administration, including arguments at the Supreme Court

Kruger returned to Washington in 2007 to take a job as an assistant to the U.S. solicitor general. She served in that role for several years, until she was named the acting principal deputy solicitor general. The lawyer who holds that job, which is sometimes known as the “political deputy,” is normally the only deputy in the solicitor general’s office who is not a career civil servant (and the only other political appointee, beyond the solicitor general, in the office).

During her six years in the solicitor general’s office, Kruger argued 12 cases at the Supreme Court on behalf of the federal government. One of those cases was a high-profile dispute involving whether the “ministerial exception” to employment-discrimination laws – the idea that religious institutions normally have the sole right to determine who can act as their ministers – barred a lawsuit by a teacher and ordained minister who had been fired by the Lutheran school where she worked. Kruger argued that the teacher should be able to pursue her lawsuit against the school for alleged discrimination on the basis of disability. The Supreme Court, in an opinion by Chief Justice John Roberts, unanimously rejected that position and held that the ministerial exception applied.

The other cases Kruger argued touched on a wide range of issues, from the Sixth Amendment’s confrontation clause and right to counsel to federal “career criminal” laws and federal benefits laws. At the lectern, Kruger’s tone with the justices was conversational from the start, with a quiet confidence. She was poised even when she was being peppered with questions from all sides of the bench, as she was in defending an ultimately unsuccessful position in her first argument, in Begay v. United States.

Kruger left the solicitor general’s office in 2013 to serve as a deputy assistant attorney general in another section of the Department of Justice: the Office of Legal Counsel, which (among other things) provides legal advice to the president and other agencies within the executive branch. As Rory Little observed, that office has “yielded an unusual share of prominent federal judges and Justices over the past half century,” including the late Justice Antonin Scalia and the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist.

During her time in the Department of Justice, Kruger twice received the attorney general’s award for exceptional service, the department’s “highest award for employee performance.” Both awards give a glimpse into her work at DOJ beyond the courtroom. In 2013, she was part of a team that won the award for its work in defending the Affordable Care Act, while in 2014 she was a member of a group that won the award for its work implementing the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision in United States v. Windsor, striking down the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

An “out of the box” pick for the California Supreme Court

In 2014, California Governor Jerry Brown nominated Kruger, then just 38 years old, to serve on the California Supreme Court when Associate Justice Joyce Kennard retired. Kruger’s former bosses in the solicitor general’s office praised her selection, with then-Solicitor General Don Verrilli describing her as “brilliant, deeply principled and eloquent” and former Solicitor General Paul Clement calling her an “outstanding lawyer” who “combines an understated and easygoing manner with a keen legal mind and unquestioned integrity.” Former Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal echoed those thoughts, saying that “California, and the nation, could do no better than Leondra Kruger.”

But despite those accolades from Washington, Kruger’s nomination was not greeted with unbridled enthusiasm within California because Kruger was not a practicing lawyer in the state, was not a judge, and lacked trial experience. However, Kruger was rated “exceptionally well qualified” by the California state bar group responsible for evaluating judicial nominees, and in December 2014 she was confirmed by the Commission on Judicial Appointments, a three-member body that holds a hearing to consider and decide whether to confirm nominees to the state’s highest courts. The commission’s members included Kamala Harris, then the state’s attorney general and now the vice president of the United States. Kruger was sworn into office in January 2015, becoming only the second Black woman to serve on the California Supreme Court.

Lawyers who practice regularly before that court describe Kruger in terms that are not unlike those used to characterize Breyer. In a November 2020 story for The Recorder, appellate lawyer Ben Feuer indicated that Kruger was “not looking to create radical change in the law emanating from the judicial branch.” “Rather,” Feuer continued, she understands the limited yet critical role the judicial branch plays in the complex ballet of our representative democracy.”

In a 2018 interview with the Los Angeles Times, Kruger herself said that she tries to do her job “in a way that enhances the predictability and stability of the law and public confidence and trust in the work of the courts.” Many of the published decisions that Kruger has written or joined while on the California Supreme Court have been unanimous rulings, with largely (although not uniformly) liberal-leaning results.

Upholding rights of the accused, from juvenile court to death-penalty cases

Kruger wrote for a unanimous court in April 2018 in a decision holding that videotaped statements by a three-year-old who claimed that she had been sexually molested by her father should not have been used as the basis to find that the child had been abused, which in turn led to an order for the father’s removal from the family’s home. Kruger acknowledged that juvenile courts have a “sensitive and difficult task” in such cases. However, she continued, the evidence in this case of the child’s reliability was “weaker than the juvenile court acknowledged.” The juvenile court failed to take into account that the child had also recently been molested by an older child, and that “[h]er repeated statements about abuse were strikingly similar to descriptions of that” incident. Moreover, Kruger added, “the child’s account contained both inconsistencies and inaccuracies that were woven through her core allegations.”

California Supreme Court Justice Leondra Kruger
Photo: State of California

With automatic appeals to the California Supreme Court, death penalty cases are a staple of the court’s docket. However, California has not executed anyone since 2006, and in 2019 the state’s governor, Gavin Newsom, imposed an official moratorium on executions. In 2019, Kruger wrote for a unanimous court in overturning the death sentence of Jeffrey Scott Young, who was convicted of killing two people during a 2002 robbery and carjacking at an offsite parking lot near San Diego International Airport. The court agreed with Young that the jury should not have been allowed to consider evidence regarding his white supremacist beliefs and tattoos, which prosecutors had introduced during the sentencing phase of his trial to rebut evidence about his good character.

The specific evidence to which prosecutors had been responding, Kruger explained, was testimony from Young’s grandmother about, for example, “his commitment to his family and children.” Although the court did not rule out the possibility that, in a different case, evidence of a defendant’s racist beliefs could be admitted, it cannot be used, Kruger concluded, simply to demonstrate the offensiveness of those beliefs.

Kruger wrote again for a unanimous court in 2020 to throw out another death sentence, this time in the high-profile case of Scott Peterson, who was convicted and sentenced to death for the 2002 murders of his pregnant wife, Laci, and the couple’s unborn child, Conner. Kruger agreed with Peterson that the trial court had made “a series of clear and significant errors in jury selection that, under long-standing U.S. Supreme Court precedent, undermined Peterson’s right to an impartial jury at the penalty phase.” Most notably, Kruger explained, the trial court should not have dismissed potential jurors simply because they expressed general opposition to the death penalty, without also determining whether that opposition would have meant that they would be unable to follow the law and impose the death penalty if warranted. In December 2021, Peterson was resentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Bodycam footage and sexual-abuse lawsuits

Two years ago, Kruger wrote for the court in its decision holding that a California city could not charge a public-interest group seeking public records for the approximately 40 hours that city employees spent editing footage from police body cameras. A local chapter of the National Lawyers Guild sought records relating to the Hayward Police Department’s actions in the 2014 demonstrations that followed grand jury decisions not to indict the police officers involved in the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown. The city of Hayward billed the group $3,000, citing a state-law provision that requires the person or group requesting electronic records to pay the costs associated with producing copies of those records when producing those copies would require the extraction of data.

The extraction of data, Kruger explained, does not cover redacting exempt material from electronic records that the city would otherwise need to disclose. That interpretation, Kruger reasoned, is more consistent with both the text of the statute and the California legislature’s intent in enacting the law. Moreover, she added, interpreting the term “extraction” to include the costs of redaction “would make it more difficult for the public to access information kept in electronic format” – contrary to the state’s constitution, which “favors an interpretation that avoids erecting such substantial financial barriers to access.”

Kruger acknowledged the city’s argument that “requests for body camera footage present unique concerns for government agencies with limited resources” because of the privacy interests involved, among other things. But this provision does not only cover body-camera footage, Kruger stressed. Instead, she noted, “it covers every type of electronic record, from garden-variety emails to large government databases.” Only the legislature, Kruger indicated, can decide whether to create special rules for body-camera footage.

Last year, Kruger wrote for the court in a unanimous decision holding that three athletes who allege that they were sexually abused by a coach as teenagers can sue USA Taekwondo but not the U.S. Olympic Committee. In her opinion, Kruger rebuffed the plaintiffs’ suggestion that the court should adopt a “more flexible and holistic approach” to determine whether a defendant can be held responsible for failing to protect a victim from harm caused by another person. “Without denying the gravity of the injuries these plaintiffs suffered,” Kruger stressed, “nor the broader problem of sexual abuse of minors in organized youth sports and other activities,” a defendant cannot be held responsible for injuries that it did not cause “unless there are special circumstances” that create a special duty for the defendant to provide protection or help to the plaintiffs.

Other notable decisions Kruger joined

In 2018, Kruger joined a unanimous decision that upheld a state law requiring new handgun models to imprint “micro stamps” inside the guns and on shell casings to make it easier for police to identify them. The National Shooting Sports Foundation, a trade association for gun manufacturers, argued that the requirement should be invalidated because it was impossible to implement the technology. The decision by Justice Goodwin Liu emphasized that the ruling did not involve the constitutionality of the requirement, but instead was simply a question of statutory interpretation. The California Supreme Court’s cases, Liu explained, have acknowledged that statutes may contain an exception when it is impossible to comply with the law when that is what the legislature intended. But in this case, Liu wrote, neither the text nor the purpose of the law indicates that, once the law went into effect, gun manufacturers may be excused from the requirement because it is impossible to comply with it.

Kruger concurred in a 2019 opinion by Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye that unanimously upheld the death sentence of a man convicted of a brutal double murder and robbery. Cantil-Sakauye’s opinion also rejected the challenge by the inmate, Thomas Potts, to the constitutionality of the state’s death-penalty scheme, as well as his contention that his more than two decades on death row constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.

Kruger did not join a concurring opinion by Liu that, while expressing “tremendous compassion for the victims and their families,” characterized the state’s death-penalty system as “an expensive and dysfunctional system that does not deliver justice or closure in a timely manner, if at all.” It is time, Liu suggested, for a discussion of the death penalty’s “effectiveness and costs.” 

Kruger joined a unanimous opinion by Justice Mariano-Florentino Cuellar, another Brown appointee, abolishing the state’s cash bail system. The question came to the court in the case of Kenneth Humphrey, a 66-year-old man charged with robbery. Humphrey’s bail was initially set at $600,000 and then was reduced to $350,000 – an amount that Humphrey still could not pay. Cuellar concluded that the “common practice of conditioning freedom solely on whether an arrestee can afford bail is unconstitutional.” “Other conditions of release,” he continued, including “electronic monitoring, regular check-ins with a pretrial case manager, community housing or shelter, and drug and alcohol treatment,” can often “protect public and victim safety as well as assure the arrestee’s appearance at trial.”

A varied record in divided cases

But not all of the California Supreme Court’s opinions are unanimous. And when the court has divided, Kruger has been difficult to pigeonhole. She has sometimes joined Democratic appointees to reach an arguably “liberal” result, but at other times she has joined Republican appointees to arrive at an arguably “conservative” result.

In the 2016 case Augustus v. ABM Security Services, Kruger declined to join Cuellar’s majority opinion holding that an employer violated state labor laws by requiring its employees – security guards – to keep their radios and pagers on during their rest periods in case they were needed. Cuellar, whose ruling was joined by four other justices, reasoned that the employer’s policies “conflict with an employer’s obligation to provide breaks relieving employees of all work-related duties and employer control.”

In an opinion joined by Justice Carol Corrigan, who was named to the court by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, Kruger agreed with the majority that employers “must provide off-duty rest periods” for their employees. But, she continued, simply requiring those employees to carry a radio or a pager during their rest periods isn’t, standing alone, work – particularly when there is no evidence that the security guards’ rest periods were actually interrupted. Kruger would have sent the case back to the lower courts for them to determine whether the company’s “on-call policy actually interfered with its employees’ ability to use their rest periods as periods of rest.”

Kruger provided the key vote in 2018 in Hassell v. Bird, in which the court declined to uphold an order that would have required Yelp to remove negative reviews of a law firm from its site. A three-justice plurality, in an opinion by Cantil-Sakauye, another Schwarzenegger appointee, agreed with Yelp that requiring it to take down the reviews would violate Section 230 of the federal Communications Decency Act of 1996, which generally gives websites immunity for content created by their users. (Corrigan and Justice Ming Chin, who was appointed by Gov. Pete Wilson, a Republican, provided the other two votes for Cantil-Sakauye’s opinion.)

In a separate concurring opinion, Kruger explained that in her view it was “unnecessary to reach” the Section 230 issue. Instead, she would resolve the case on the “more basic” ground that Yelp – which had not been named as a defendant in the case – could not be required to take the review down without “its own day in court.” Kruger agreed that the majority had reached the correct result, but she emphasized that she would not weigh in on how Section 230 might apply more broadly in future cases. She reasoned that although Section 230 “has brought an end to a number of lawsuits seeking remedies for a wide range of civil wrongs accomplished through Internet postings,” “the broad sweep of section 230 remedies also has ‘troubling consequences.’” “Whether to maintain the status quo,” Kruger concluded, “is a question only Congress can decide.”

Joined by Cuellar and two other Brown appointees — Liu and Justice Joshua Groban — Kruger wrote for a 4-3 court in 2019 in throwing out a lower-court ruling that upheld a search of a car without a warrant to look for the driver’s identification. Kruger described the “central issue” before the court as “not whether the search of” the driver’s car was “consistent with the guidance given in” an earlier case, but instead whether to “continue to adhere to” that earlier decision in light of U.S. Supreme Court cases since then.

Noting that the California decision had become an outlier, Kruger observed that although the California Supreme Court’s ruling had “attempted to cordon off” the power it gave to police officers, experience had shown that in practice, the searches have come “perilously close” to full searches of the cars. There are other ways for officers to obtain the information that they need, she suggested, such as asking a driver for her name and date of birth and cross-checking that information against the Department of Motor Vehicles database.

Addressing the dissent’s argument that, without carving out an exception to the Fourth Amendment’s general warrant requirement for cases like this one, “officers may not be able to achieve absolute certainty about the identity of some subset of traffic violators before issuing traffic tickets,” Kruger countered that “the test for whether an exception should be recognized is not whether, in its absence, there might be some cost in effective enforcement of the traffic laws.” Instead, she wrote, it is “whether the tradeoff to lower that risk is worth the coin in diminished privacy.” “It is not,” she concluded, “a price we should lightly require California drivers to pay.”

In 2018, Kruger wrote for a divided court – in an opinion joined by Cantil-Sakauye, Chin, and Corrigan – in rejecting a challenge to a state law that requires law enforcement officials to collect DNA samples and fingerprints from anyone arrested for a felony. Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2013 decision in Maryland v. King, the majority concluded that the defendant in the case, Mark Buza, had been arrested for a serious offense – arson – and, at least as applied to him, the requirement therefore did not violate either the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment or the California constitution.

The majority did not weigh in on whether the law was valid for other defendants, and it rejected a suggestion – made by Liu and Cuellar, in dissenting opinions – that it determine whether the state can require a DNA sample before a judge determines that a defendant’s arrest was valid. Kruger stressed that the court’s holding was “limited,” and she explained that “the law teaches that we should ordinarily focus on the circumstances before us in determining whether the work of a coequal branch of government may stand or must fall.”

Kruger joined an opinion by Liu in 2019 that reinstated a challenge by psychotherapists to a state law that would require them to report to authorities patients who admit to viewing child pornography, even when the therapists don’t believe that the patients pose any harm to children. Writing for a four-justice majority, Liu acknowledged that the “proliferation of child pornography on the Internet is an urgent problem of national and international dimension,” but the court – over a dissent by Cantil-Sakauye, Chin, and Corrigan – concluded that the reporting requirement implicated an interest in privacy. Stressing that the court was not ruling that the reporting requirement was unconstitutional, Liu sent the case back to the lower courts for them to determine whether the reporting requirement actually advances the law’s purpose of protecting children, or whether it instead deters patients from seeking treatment for sexual disorders.

Kruger sided with the court’s conservative justices in a 4-3 ruling in 2017 that made it more difficult for inmates sentenced under the state’s “Three Strikes” law to obtain resentencing. In a separate concurring opinion joined by two of her colleagues, Kruger explained that the other provisions in the ballot initiative on which the inmates seeking resentencing relied reflected a “clear and exclusive focus on affording relief to individuals who have committed specified drug- and theft-related offenses, and neither the stated purposes of the proposition nor the ballot materials alerted voters to any possibility that a favorable vote might also result in a significant change to the separate statutory scheme governing the resentencing of life prisoners under the ‘Three Strikes’ law.” “Although this is certainly a choice the voters could make,” Kruger acknowledged, “I do not think we can say it is a choice the voters have already made.”

Under the California system, although Kruger was nominated by Brown and confirmed by the Commission on Judicial Appointments, she was still required to face the voters in a “retention election,” without an opponent, in 2018. Kruger won retention easily, with nearly 73% of voters – 6.6 million in total – voting “yes.”

Personal life

Kruger is married to Brian Hauck, a partner at the law firm of Jenner & Block and a former senior official in the Department of Justice during the Obama administration. The couple has two children: a son and a daughter.

When she had their daughter in 2016, Kruger became the first California Supreme Court justice to give birth while in office. A 2018 story in the Los Angeles Times recounted how Kruger traveled from the San Francisco Bay area, where she lives, to Los Angeles with her newborn to hear oral arguments; Kruger’s mother-in-law cared for the baby, then four weeks old, while Kruger was working.

If Biden nominates Kruger, it will not be his administration’s first effort to get Kruger to return to the east coast. In January, Marcia Coyle and Ryan Barber of the National Law Journal reported that Kruger had twice turned down offers to serve as the administration’s solicitor general. Like a position as a Supreme Court justice, that job requires Senate confirmation – but a job as a Supreme Court justice comes with life tenure. 

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Amy Howe is the former editor and a reporter for SCOTUSblog and still is a contributor. She primarily writes for her eponymous blog, Howe on the Court.

Before turning to full-time blogging, she served as counsel in over two dozen merits cases at the Supreme Court and argued two cases there.

Amy is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and holds a master’s degree in Arab Studies and a law degree from Georgetown University.

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The preceding article was previously published by SCOTUSBlog and is republished by permission.

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Religious Extremism/Anti-LGBTQ+ Activism

Transphobic Fox host: Trans people are “Deeply Anti-Human”

Fox news host Laura Ingraham launched into a transphobic rant claiming the political left are cheering on what she termed anti-humanism

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Screenshot/YouTube Fox News

By Media Matters Staff | NEW YORK – On her show last night, Fox news host Laura Ingraham launched into a transphobic rant claiming among other things that those on the political left are cheering on what she termed anti-humanism.

Then she pivoted to the transgender community:

“Crusaders for climate change, abortion, euthanasia, gender fluidity, they all lead — eventually, their thinking — to the devaluing of human life.

“At its core, being anti-human means being anti- truth because it involves the questioning or denying of objective facts, including those at the very heart of our existence. 

“The cult of gender deviancy collapses into meaningless slogans and blather. None of it makes any sense, but it’s deeply anti-human.” 

Watch the Media Matters for America video clip:

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Obama rallies for Warnock as Walker goes transphobic in latest ad

“Tomorrow is the last day for early voting and then we need to get people out to the polls on Tuesday, which means we still got work to do”

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Former President Barack Obama with Sen. Raphael Warnock (Pool photo via CNN)

ATLANTA – Former President Barack Obama held a rally with Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) tonight in Atlanta as the Georgia election runoff for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Warnock enters its final week.

Speaking to the enthusiastic crowd in the historic Pullman Yard, Obama urged supporters to continue pressing to secure Warnock’s chances as early voting ends Friday ahead of next Tuesday’s election.

“Now I know a lot of folks have been voting early over the last few days, that is a good thing. That is an encouraging thing. But — you knew there was a but —plenty of folks haven’t voted yet. Tomorrow is the last day for early voting and then we need to get people out to the polls on Tuesday, which means we still got work to do,” Obama said.

A spokesperson for the the Georgia secretary of state’s office told the Blade that more than 1.1 million votes have been cast so far.

Warnock’s Republican challenger meanwhile focused on his opposition to transgender rights. In a recent campaign ad, Herschel Walker is featured alongside cisgender former University of Kentucky swimmer Riley Gaines, who tied with University of Pennsylvania trans female swimmer Lia Thomas.

In the ad Gaines says she “worked so hard” at competitive swimming but she was “forced to compete against a biological male.”  The ad also goes on to attack Warnock in the Chyron onscreen stating: “Raphael Warnock voted to allow biological men to compete in women’s sports.” That particular charge by Walker’s campaign is factually incorrect as the U.S. Senate has not held any votes on the subject of transgender women in sports.

Politico’s National political reporter Natalie Allison tweeted:

During the rally in Atlanta this evening Politico reported Warnock received roaring applause when he poked fun at Walker, something Obama also did, referencing a series of outlandish comments the retired football star has made over the course of his candidacy.

“We all know some folks in our lives who, we don’t wish them ill will, they say crazy stuff … but you don’t give them serious responsibility,” Obama said.

“He was an amazing running back,” Warnock said of Walker. “And come next Tuesday, we’re going to send him running back to Texas.”

Walker, who was raised in the Peach State and was a star player at the University of Georgia, lived the majority of his adult life in Texas before returning to run for Senate in 2021.

Politico also noted that Warnock, the pastor of the Atlanta church that Martin Luther King Jr. attended, tied the election to the long struggle of African Americans for equal rights, noting the crowd had gathered on the 67th anniversary of Rosa Parks refusing to get up from a bus seat in Montgomery, Alabama. Walker is also African American.

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Charlie Kirk smears Out Calif. State Sen. Scott Wiener on Twitter

“Kirk is leading the movement to slander gay men and trans people as ‘pedophiles’ and ‘groomers,’ & these heinous words have consequences”

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Charlie Kirk speaking on the 2021 Turning Point USA college tour (Photo by Gage Skidmore)

SAN FRANCISCO – In a lengthy tirade on Twitter Tuesday, far-right extremist radio chat show host Charles J. Kirk, while loosely channeling an InfoWars host Alex Jones style-attack, went after California State Senator Scott Wiener, (D-SF District 11) implying that the veteran lawmaker endorses and supports child molestation.

Kirk, 29, is a co-founder of Turning Point USA, a conservative right-wing political group aimed at influencing college and university students and young people. Ironically, Kirk himself dropped out of Harper College, a junior community college near Chicago, without having completed any degree or certificate.

Kirk hosts a daily three-hour radio talk show, called The Charlie Kirk Show, on Salem Media which is known for owning conservative websites Townhall.com, RedState, Hot Air, and PJ Media, as well as Twitter aggregator Twitchy, calling itself a ” for-profit Christian broadcast corporation.”

He is also an avid supporter of impeached former president Donald Trump, consistently refers to himself as a MAGA Republican and has asserted that the concept of white privilege is a myth and a “racist lie.” He also has spread false information and conspiracy theories about COVID-19 on social media platforms, such as Twitter, in 2020.

Recently Kirk has been attacking the LGBTQ+ community on the subjects of trans youth and also following the lead of far-right Republican U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, (R-GA) in attacking Senator Wiener:

Kirk’s attack on the senator commenced with: “Thousands of pedophiles in California are going free after just a few months in jail, thanks to the state’s radically reduced penalties for child molestation. One reason so many of these predators are going free so early is California lawmaker Scott Wiener.”

Then he went on to state in the thread: “That name and photo might ring a bell. Wiener is one of the most effective lawmakers in the entire country. He’s behind California’s new law that will protect parents who kidnap their children and take them to California to receive mutilating surgeries.

Wiener was also behind California’s law lowering penalties for intentionally spreading HIV to other people, and their law creating a third “nonbinary” gender for government documents.

If there’s some horrifying idea related to modern gender and sex ideology, Wiener has probably written and passed a bill about it in California.

If elected Republicans cared as much about their voters’ concerns as Scott Wiener cares about freeing pedophiles and mutilating children, they’d have won total victory long ago.”

Editor’s Note: It needs to be made clear, California has NOT reduced penalties for child molestation.

(REUTERS) Posts on Facebook claim that SB-145, a bill passed by the California State Senate on August 31, 2020 seeks to “legalize pedophilia.” This claim is false, as the bill is intended to reform the state’s sex offender registry to be fairer to young LGBT adults who may be in technical violation of statutory rape laws. The bill seeks to treat all statutory rape cases—regardless of what kind of sex they involve—equally.

Senator Wiener responded to Kirk’s attacks saying on Twitter:

Charlie Kirk — one of the biggest attention-seeking liars around — is spreading bald-faced lies about me. These statements are absolutely false & defamatory. These are the lies bigots have always spread about LGBTQ people — lies that lead to violence against our community.

In an emailed statement to the Blade Wiener said:

“LGBTQ leaders around the country are under attack by toxic, far-right ideologues and elected officials. These MAGA talking heads – whose party performed far worse than expected in the midterm elections – have no meaningful policy solutions for the issues facing our country. Instead, they are focused on slandering and demonizing gay and trans people, and using us as scapegoats. Specifically, they’re employing the age-old slander that LGBTQ people are threats to children, and that is what Greene and Kirk tweeted about me.

“Charlie Kirk is a prime example of this type of extremist right-wing grifter, and he joined Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene in tweeting about me repackaged versions of centuries-old homophobic lies. Kirk and Greene are leading the movement to slander gay men and trans people as ‘pedophiles’ and ‘groomers,’ and these heinous words have consequences. Be it the massacre at Club Q or the death threat I just received this morning referencing Kirk’s tweet, LGBTQ people everywhere are experiencing an onslaught of violence and threats.

“People like Kirk and Greene are a stain on our country, and they should be held accountable for spreading vile, homophobic misinformation.”

In his statement Wiener was referencing last week’s attack by Far-right Republican U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, (R-GA) who called the Senator a “communist” questioning Wiener’s loyalty and service to both the State of California and the U.S. she then went on to accuse Wiener of being a “groomer” implying that the Senator was a predator of minors for sexual purposes:

Pass my Protect Children’s Innocence Act to stop communist groomers like this from using state government power to take children away from their parents to allow a for-profit medical industry to chop off these confused children’s genitals before they are even old enough to vote.”

Wiener made a point of calling out use of the word “groomer,” as the abusive reaction and fallout from right-wing sources regarding the mass-shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs, continues to ratchet up against the LGBTQ+ community.

The word “groomer” is categorically an anti-LGBTQ hate word. It’s super homophobic/transphobic. It plays into the slander that LGBTQ people are pedophiles. It’s no different than calling someone a fagg*t. If you call someone groomer, you’re inciting violence against LGBTQ people,” Wiener stated in a tweet.

Equality California, the largest statewide LGBTQ equal rights advocacy group reacted to Kirk’s smears Wednesday afternoon. In an text message to the Blade, Equality California spokesperson Jorge Reyes Salinas said:

“It is disgusting but not surprising that days after a mass shooting fueled by dangerous rhetoric from extremists like Marjorie Taylor Greene, Charlie Kirk posts lies to spread anti-LGBTQ+ hate. The statements made are false, defamatory and lead to violence  against our LGBTQ+ community. This is another performance to build up hatred.”

The organization had previously tweeted at Kirk defending the senator:

“This is a lie. It’s false, offensive and dangerous — the exact type of disinformation that has fueled violent attacks like the Club Q shooting in #ColoradoSprings. Shame on you, and shame on @elonmusk [Twitter owner and CEO] for allowing these dangerous lies to proliferate.”

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Politics

Marjorie Taylor Greene tweets homophobic attack on Sen. Wiener

“Greene is a toxic person & embodies why the MAGA movement is dangerous, a threat to our democracy & to the personal safety of LGBTQ people”

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Calif state Sen. Scott Wiener, (D-San Francisco) (Photo credit: California LGBTQ Legislative Caucus)

LOS ANGELES – Far-right Republican U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene attacked Calif. State Sen. Scott Wiener, (D-San Francisco) on Tuesday after Wiener made a point of calling out use of the word “groomer,” as the abusive reaction and fallout from right-wing sources regarding the mass-shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs, continues to ratchet up against the LGBTQ+ community.

The word “groomer” is categorically an anti-LGBTQ hate word. It’s super homophobic/transphobic. It plays into the slander that LGBTQ people are pedophiles. It’s no different than calling someone a fagg*t. If you call someone groomer, you’re inciting violence against LGBTQ people,” Wiener stated in his tweet.

Quoting Wiener’s tweet the far-right MAGA Georgia congresswoman called the Senator a “communist” questioning Wiener’s loyalty and service to both the State of California and the U.S. she then went on to accuse Wiener of being a “groomer” implying that the Senator was a predator of minors for sexual purposes:

Pass my Protect Children’s Innocence Act to stop communist groomers like this from using state government power to take children away from their parents to allow a for-profit medical industry to chop off these confused children’s genitals before they are even old enough to vote.”

In an emailed statement, Senator Wiener responded to the homophobic attack by the Georgia Republican:

“The same day Elon Musk reinstated QAnon extremist Marjorie Taylor Greene, she launched a vile homophobic attack on me because of my vocal advocacy in response to the Club Q slaughter. When Greene has attacked me in the past, threats against me have typically increased. She is a toxic person and embodies why the MAGA movement is so dangerous. Green is a threat to our democracy and to the personal safety of LGBTQ people.”

The term ‘groomer’ is considered highly offensive as it broadly brushstroke paints LGBTQ+ people as child molesters.

The definition according to the Urban online dictionary:

groomer

1 (the crime definition): An adult that builds a sense of trust with a minor to exploit and/or abuse them, typically (but not always) in a sexual manner. This is a crime, and it also causes harm to the minor.

2 (in US politics): What republican politicians and supporters refer to LGBTQIA+ people and their allies as, to manipulate their audience to pass anti-LGBTQIA+ legislation. This is targeting and harming LGBTQIA+ people and the people using the word in this manner typically are (or have connections with those who are) actual groomers.

National Public Radio, (NPR) reported this past May the Movement Advancement Project’s executive director, Ineke Mushovic, pointed out:

“What the far right often does is they engage people’s reptilian brains, the fight-or-flight instinct,” says Mushovic. “And so it behooves far-right conservatives to put people in a state of fear, because then they’re reactive. They don’t support change.”

The “grooming” narrative, Mushovic added, “taps into this primal sense of fear and this kind of parental protective instinct. But we know it’s a completely false narrative.”

The “grooming” narrative has been actively promoted by conservative activist Christopher Rufo, and Daily Wire pundit and transphobe Matt Walsh who have both attacked gender affirming care in their assaults on the LGBTQ+ community.

Green’s H.R.8731 – Protect Children’s Innocence Act, was introduced this past August 19 and has forty-nine Republican members listed as co-sponsors. The language as introduced stated targets primarily Trans youth healthcare and targets colleges and universities from “offering instruction in gender affirming care:”

This bill places restrictions on the provision of gender affirming care. Gender affirming care includes performing surgery, administering medication, or performing other procedures for the purpose of changing the body of an individual to correspond to a sex that differs from the individual’s biological sex.

Specifically, the bill makes it a felony to perform any gender affirming care on a minor and it permits a minor on whom such care is performed to bring a civil action against each individual who provided the care.

Additionally, the bill prohibits the use of federal funds for gender affirming care or for health insurance that covers such care. Such care may not be provided in a federal health care facility or by a federal employee. The bill also prohibits qualified health plans from including coverage for gender affirming care. Further, plans that include coverage for such care are not eligible for federal subsidies. […]

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Politics

Out AG candidate wins, Rollins concedes congressional race

‘Fixing our system of disagreement matters. Integrity matters. Truth matters. Democracy matters, elections matter’

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Kris Mayes & Will Rollins (Photo Credit: LGBTQ Victory Fund/Rollins Campaign)

PHOENIX – The closest statewide competition in the Grand Canyon State was the race for Arizona attorney general. On Monday Maricopa County released its final election results that had openly Out candidate Kris Mayes beating her Republican opponent Abe Hamadeh by only 510 votes.

“Kris’ victory is a win for all Arizonans. Voters chose a champion of equality who believes in democracy over a cynic who spread election disinformation for his own perceived political gain. In a state with bans on abortion and same-sex marriage still on the books, the symbolism of voters choosing an out LGBTQ Attorney General cannot be overstated,” Mayor Annise Parker, President & CEO of LGBTQ Victory Fund, said in a statement. “Kris has a long track record of taking on big fights and winning on behalf of her community and will be a powerful pro-equality, pro-choice force in Arizona. Today’s results are a resounding rebuke to the hate and intolerance sweeping our country. Voters made their voices heard loud and clear: enough is enough. It’s time for change, it’s time for courage.”

There are currently just two out LGBTQ state Attorneys General in the United States, according to LGBTQ Victory Institute: Dana Nessel in Michigan and Maura Healey in Massachusetts. In case of Massachusetts, Healy is now the governor-elect of Massachusetts, having won the 2022 election.

According to Phoenix NBC News affiliate KPNX 12, the state’s unofficial final results have placed Mayes only 510 votes ahead of Hamadeh to become the state’s next attorney general. The results will likely spur an automatic recount after state election numbers are certified on Dec. 5. 

********************************

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – In the race to represent California’s 41st Congressional District in the House of Representatives, openly gay Democratic candidate and former federal prosecutor Will Rollins congratulated his GOP opponent Ken Calvert and conceded the race.

In a statement released Monday afternoon, Rollins said: “I have called Representative Calvert to offer my congratulations. I had hoped for a different result, but I respect our democratic system and am sure that our fine election workers did their jobs honestly and responsibly, and I accept the count. Thank you to the hundreds of thousands of you who voted.” 

He added:

“So, what’s next? What’s next for our communities, and what’s next for our country? The truth is that we are in a moment of uncertainty, because America is divided. And there are a lot of people out there who benefit – financially, militarily, politically – when Americans turn against one another.

“But this campaign proves that ordinary Americans have the power to reject those who try to divide us. That is how we built this country, and that is how we built this campaign. We are a community of Democrats, Republicans, and independents who came together to restore compromise, civility, and progress in the United States.”

Rollins also noted:

“This community is growing. Ordinary Americans of good faith uniting to elect leaders who know that this country is about more than one person, more than one president, more than one party, and more than one congressman. We may not always agree on how to solve the country’s problems, but the point of this campaign has always been that the way we disagree matters. Fixing our system of disagreement matters. Integrity matters. Truth matters. Democracy matters.”

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Kelly cites white supremacy after losing House race in Tennessee

A 2022 report by The Sentencing Project shows that 21% of Black voters in Tennessee are permanently barred from voting

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Odessa Kelly lost her House race in a gerrymandered district. (Photo by Shance Ware)

NASHVILLE – Odessa Kelly was on track to become the first openly gay Black woman elected to represent Tennessee in the U.S. House. On election night, as votes were counted, Kelly watched that dream slip out of reach. 

“The loss didn’t come because I’m an openly gay Black woman in the South, the loss came because of racism,” Kelly said in an interview with the Blade.

Kelly, who ran to represent Tennessee’s 7th Congressional District against incumbent Mark Green (R), lost the election by more than 20 points. Kelly blames white supremacy, gerrymandering, and voter suppression for her loss.

“I just lost a congressional race due to White Supremacy, Gerrymandering, Racist (GOP), Undercover Racist BlueDog Dems, and Voter Suppression,” Kelly tweeted post-election.

Republican-led gerrymandering parceled predominantly Democratic Davidson County, which includes Nashville, into three separate congressional districts. This gerrymandering obliterated representation for Nashville residents at the state and federal level. 

“We have zero representation in the largest, most populated city in Tennessee,” Kelly said. 

Gerrymandering often intentionally marginalizes minority communities’ voices and votes by relocating them to conservative districts. East Nashville, the minority ruled and politically Democratic district where Kelly grew up, was moved to the conservative and predominantly white district of Cookeville. But Nashville residents aren’t the only Tennesseans affected by gerrymandering in the state. 

Statewide, Tennessean voters of color were disproportionately split up and relocated to districts where they are outnumbered and their voices are drowned out. This leaves communities of color at the mercy of Jim Crow and racist political tactics that suppress their voices and their votes because they no longer hold a majority vote in any of these new districts. 

“White supremacy showed up in our state legislature and in me losing this race,” Kelly said. 

The systemic disenfranchisement of Black voters in Tennessee also played a major role in Kelly’s loss. A 2022 report by The Sentencing Project shows that 21% of Black voters in Tennessee are permanently barred from voting, while only 8% of adult voters are barred statewide. 

And a Tennessee Advisory Committee Report shows that Tennessee is one of 11 states that permanently disenfranchises voters. With some of the toughest laws and requirements for voting, the state makes it hard for Tennesseans to earn the right to vote again. 

“I assume that the majority of those individuals who can’t vote would probably vote for me because they’re looking for relief and pathways out of poverty,” Kelly said. “And those are the things that I’m fighting for.” 

As for what’s next, Kelly says she is determined to keep fighting for a country and political system where those forgotten by the status quo are represented. .

“I will not stop. I will not give up. I will keep fighting because the issues don’t change.” 

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