Leahy Berates Federal Judicial Nominee Over Joke Tweet About Marrying Bacon

November 15, 2017

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."