Lee was selected to achieve specific ideological results and to carry out the partisan agenda articulated by Trump.
From the Alliance for Justice:
Lee – a Federalist Society member for over 20 years – has a record of attacking “liberals,” Democrats, and “left-leaning lawyers” who have sought to enforce rights and legal protections in court. He has opposed voting rights and equal opportunity programs. He has advocated on behalf of wealthy corporations to make it harder for workers and consumers to have their day in court. And, like circuit court nominees Ryan Bounds and Neomi Rao, Lee in his student years amassed a record of intolerance. During those years he harshly criticized “multiculturalism” (a “malodorous sickness”) and fought activists advocating for racial justice, women’s rights, and LGBTQ equality.
Among other things, Lee wrote that ethnic studies on campus perpetuated a “victimization culture,” that a resource center for LGBTQ students was nothing but “a token to appease the more militant gay activists on campus,” and that “phony feminist statistics on rape, anorexia, and discriminatory treatment of girls” were rife on campus.
Lee’s record has drawn criticism from his home-state senators, Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris. But because the Trump White House was determined to nominate a reliable ideologue, it pointedly avoided meaningful consultation with either senator before nominating Lee. As Senator Feinstein wrote, “I repeatedly told the White House I wanted to reach an agreement on a package of 9th Circuit nominees, but…the White House moved forward without consulting me, picking controversial candidates from its initial list.”
Tellingly, Trump’s conservative base insisted he not even negotiate with home-state senators or make any effort to nominate a consensus pick. After initial (but incorrect) reports that Trump was negotiating with Senators Feinstein and Harris, conservative talk show host Hugh Hewitt said, “[c]aving on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals nominees burdens every GOP senator up for re-election in 2020 and may cost President Trump a significant percentage of the vote in key swing states.” The Wall Street Journal said that “remaking the federal judiciary may be the only thing a Republican Senate can accomplish in divided government. The White House shouldn’t water down” its nominees “to please Democrats.”
The background report on Kenneth Lee from the Alliance for Justice is here.
From the Huffington Post:
Lee, an attorney in a Los Angeles law firm and former associate White House counsel to President George W. Bush, faced criticism for a series of offensive articles he wrote in the mid-1990s as a student and newspaper editor at Cornell University.
At the time, Lee argued that claims of sexism are “irrelevant pouting”; that LGBTQ rights advocacy is “yet another way to portray people as victims in need of preferential treatment”; that gay people are more promiscuous than straight people, which is why “9 out of 10 people with AIDS are gay or drug users”; that multiculturalism is a “malodorous sickness”; and that African Americans’ fight for equality in the aftermath of slavery is similar to other immigrants trying to overcome discrimination.
“First, Mr. Lee has a long record of controversial writings and statements on race and diversity, immigration, affirmative action, women’s rights, and other issues. Second, Mr. Lee failed to disclose dozens of problematic writings to our in-state judicial commissions and to the Judiciary Committee itself,” Feinstein said in a Wednesday statement. “That failure raises significant doubts about Mr. Lee’s candor and judgment and it should be concerning to all members of this body.”
Like the vast majority of Trump’s court picks, Lee is a member of the conservative Federalist Society, which has been funneling judicial nominees to the White House who oppose abortion rights, LGBTQ rights and voting rights.