Leahy Defends Stern Questioning of Judicial Nominee Over Bacon Tweet: It's 'No Laughing Matter'

Senator Patrick Leahy / Getty Images
November 15, 2017

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D., Vt.) responded Wednesday to stories about his criticism of a federal judicial nominee's past tweets, saying they are "no laughing matter" and show the nominee would dispense unequal justice.

Leahy linked in a tweet to a Washington Free Beacon story recapping his exchange with Texas Supreme Court Justice Don Willett—nominated by President Donald Trump to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals—at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.

At the hearing, Leahy ripped Willett for tweets that he said, respectively, indicated unfairness towards transgendered people and disdain for judicial precedent on same-sex marriage.

In the latter, Willett tweeted jokingly in 2015 he'd support the right to "marry bacon." It was written around the time the Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court decision was being litigated.

The confirmation hearing exchange received media attention on Wednesday, particularly Leahy's scolding of the "bacon" tweet. Following the hearing, Leahy continued voice disagreement with the idea Willett's tweets were appropriate.

"A sitting state justice telling a transgender teenager to go away & equating marriage equality to marrying bacon (even in jest) is sending a clear message: Not all are welcome in his courtroom," Leahy wrote. "And that's no laughing matter."

Willett said Wednesday he never intended to "disparage anyone" with his tweets.

"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."