People For the American Way

Judicial Nominee Stephanie Haines’ Testimony Suggests Anti-Trans Bias

People For in Action
Judicial Nominee Stephanie Haines’ Testimony Suggests Anti-Trans Bias
Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, April 10, 2019

On March 5, President Trump nominated Stephanie Haines to be United States District Judge for the Western District of Pennsylvania. The Senate Judiciary Committee held Haines’ hearing on April 10 and reported her to the full Senate on May 9. Floor votes are expected the week of July 29. People For the American Way wrote to senators to express our opposition to the Haines nomination. You can download our letter here.

Dear Senator:

On behalf of our 1.5 million supporters nationwide, People For the American Way opposes the nomination of Stephanie L. Haines, of Pennsylvania, to be United States District Judge for the Western District of Pennsylvania. In her hearing testimony, Haines gave a disturbing response to a question relating to the dignity of transgender people.

In his written questions to the nominee, Sen. Booker asked a simple, straightforward question:

Would you honor the request of a plaintiff, defendant, or witness in your courtroom who is transgender to be referred to in accordance with their gender identity?

Instead of saying yes, Haines dissembled:

If I am confirmed, all persons that come into my courtroom will be treated fairly, respectfully, and equally.i

This was not a trick question. Showing basic respect for those who appear in your courtroom does not signal how you would rule on any particular legal issue. Others of President Trump’s nominees have answered the same question with an unqualified “yes,” including ones nominated to district courts in Pennsylvania.ii iii

It is difficult to imagine the public accepting as unbiased a ruling against a transgender litigant (or someone represented by a transgender attorney) when the judge cannot commit herself to showing even minimal courtesy toward transgender people.

Stephanie Haines should not be confirmed to a lifetime position on the federal bench. We urge senators to oppose her nomination.

Sincerely,

Marge Baker
Executive Vice President for Policy and Program