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Leahy Berates Federal Judicial Nominee Over Joke Tweet About Marrying Bacon

• November 15, 2017 12:35 pm

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Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy (Vt.) on Wednesday grilled Texas Supreme Court Justice Don Willett over a tweet he sent in 2015 saying he would support a constitutional right to "marry bacon."

President Donald Trump has nominated Willett to serve on the New Orleans-based United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

Leahy brought up the tweet, which the judge sent on April 29, 2015, during his questioning of Willett at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. The Obergefell v. Hodges same-sex marriage Supreme Court case was argued a day earlier, and the nation's highest court ruled two months later that same-sex marriage is a fundamental right.

Leahy called the tweet an "attack" on Supreme Court decisions and wondered why the senators present should believe that Willett would, as a federal judge, respect judicial precedents.

"I don't believe I had attacked Supreme Court precedent, but certainly, if I were fortunate enough to be confirmed as a federal circuit judge, I would be honor-bound, categorically, absolutely, to follow every controlling precedent," Willett said.

Leahy said again that Willett had equated same-sex marriage to marrying bacon, saying it indicated a lack of respect for the Supreme Court.

"Senator, as for the bacon tweet, that was the day after the Obergefell decision was issued and it was my attempt to inject a bit of levity," Willett said. "The country was filled with rancor and polarization. It was a divisive time in the nation."

"And you think that cut back the divisiveness with a comment like that?" Leahy asked.

"Senator, I believe every American is entitled to equal worth and dignity," Willett said. "I've never intended to disparage anyone and would never do so. That's not where my heart is."

Published under: Patrick Leahy, Supreme Court, Texas