The Senate on Thursday voted 51-42 to confirm Maria Araújo Kahn, President Joe Biden’s Second Circuit Court of Appeals nominee who suggested that microaggressions can "kill you."
Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Lindsey Graham (S.C.) were the only Republicans to vote yes on Kahn, a justice on the Connecticut State Supreme Court who has conducted numerous diversity trainings on "implicit bias." For one of those trainings, at Fordham Law School, participants were assigned a video, "How Microaggressions Are Like Mosquito Bites," that likened verbal slights to deadly viruses.
"Some mosquitoes carry truly threatening diseases that can mess up your life for years," the video says. "And other mosquitos carry strains that can even kill you." Kahn also lamented, in a 2020 opinion, that First Amendment law lets bigots get away with "verbally assaulting" oppressed groups.
Kahn is bringing these attitudes to one of the most influential federal courts in the country, which has jurisdiction over New York State and routinely hears high-profile cases about First Amendment issues. In 2019, for example, the Second Circuit ruled that former president Donald Trump could not block users from his personal Twitter account.
Khan is not the only Biden nominee with a track record of outlandish statements. Rebecca Slaughter, whom Biden renominated to the Federal Trade Commission in February, said in 2020 that antitrust law "can and should be antiracist."
"It isn’t possible to really be actually neutral," Slaughter told CNBC in an interview, "nor should we be neutral in the face of systemic racism."