Report: Mark Norris

This federal judge has a record of being Islamophobic, homophobic and extremely anti-abortion. A hat trick of crap!

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From Huffington Post:

Norris previously led an effort to ban communities from removing monuments to Confederate leaders and set up a website that used images of refugees next to pictures of Islamic State terrorists. The former Tennessee state senator also backed legislation allowing mental health counselors to discriminate against LGBTQ clients and said he does not “favor abortion under any circumstances.” Every Senate Republican present voted to confirm him.

From CNN:

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam on Wednesday signed a bill into law that allows therapists and counselors with "sincerely held principles" to reject gay, lesbian, transgender and other clients.

"This measure is rooted in the dangerous misconception that religion can be used as a free pass to discriminate," Weinberg said. "Allowing counselors to treat some potential clients differently from others based on their personal beliefs defies professional standards and could cause significant harm to vulnerable people."

Earlier this month, the Family Action Council of Tennessee touted its support for the bill, saying it was important to protect the religious beliefs and moral convictions of counselors and therapists.

From People for the American Way:

Norris has been a state senator in Tennessee since 2000, and the Senate Majority Leader since 2007.  Politics is not a disqualification from the federal bench.  Indeed, political figures have effectively transitioned into federal judges in the past.  But—assuming that Norris did not support legislation he believed to violate the United States Constitution and deprive target populations of their rights—the positions Norris took as a legislator indicate an interpretation of our Constitution and our laws that does not guarantee equality to all people.  Additionally, he has made statements and advocated policies that have so loudly proclaimed certain people as outsiders in our society, that many parties could not have confidence of standing as equals in his courtroom.

Norris has made clear what he thinks of LGBTQ Tennesseans: They are unworthy of legal protection.  When Nashville’s elected officials adopted an ordinance prohibiting the city from doing business with companies that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, Majority Leader Norris was among those supporting the successful legislative effort to nullify the Nashville law and to prevent cities from passing laws protecting LGBTQ people.


Sen. Norris has also made himself into a protector of monuments designed to promote white supremacy and instill fear in the African American population.  Memphis’ elected officials changed the name of three parks so they would no longer honor the Confederacy or the founder of the Ku Klux Klan.  In response, the state legislature passed a bill making it far more difficult to remove Confederate names and statues from public spaces, an effort that Norris supported.  Although the law’s text covers all historic memorials and names, the intent to honor the Confederacy and Jim Crow in particular and protect the state’s symbols of white supremacy was clear.

Nor could Latinos have failed to get the message when Sen. Norris could not bring himself to support a simple resolution honoring Nashville activist Renata Soto for being named Chair of the Board of Directors of the National Council of La Raza.  Such resolutions are adopted frequently.  But in this case, Norris had it pulled from the floor before a scheduled vote, stating that some of his majority-party colleagues opposed honoring NCLR due to its work supporting the rights of undocumented immigrants.  Norris asked the sponsor to remove any mention of NCLR, which the sponsor would not do.  The measure then failed in a floor vote in which Norris abstained.


Muslims, too, have had the misfortune of being marginalized by Norris.  For instance, he led an effort to stop the federal government from resettling Syrian refugees in Tennessee.  He posted online material linking the mostly Muslim refugees with ISIS terrorists and urged a lawsuit against the Obama administration to “keep Tennessee safe.”

From the Alliance for Justice:

Norris has spread offensive anti-refugee and anti-Muslim rhetoric, sought to undermine the rights of immigrants in Tennessee, and vigorously fought against LGBTQ equality and the right of women to decide whether to have an abortion. He has undertaken efforts to make it harder for African-American children to receive a quality education, made it more difficult for African-Americans, the elderly, and students to exercise their right to vote, undercut workers’ rights and protections, and made it more difficult to hold corporations accountable when they break the law.


Finally, with regard to judicial temperament, there are serious concerns about Norris’s statements and behavior. Norris has made ignorant and offensive comments about Muslims, suggesting that being Muslim was synonymous with being a terrorist. He has bemoaned that, among refugees, there are too “few Syrian Christians.” He has shown a disturbing practice of discounting facts that conflict with his ideological biases: for instance, dismissing analysts who explained why there were not more Christian refugees from Syria. He has justified his anti-refugee position on an alleged public health risk based on evidence not from a reputable health source, but from Breitbart News. He has also argued that federal refugee resettlement imposes financial burdens on the state of Tennessee, using figures even the Republican governor has strongly refuted.

Moreover, Norris regularly dismisses those who disagree with him, a disturbing trait for a potential federal judge. When Muslims in Tennessee raised concerns about the state’s treatment of Muslims, Norris dismissed their concerns, saying “I understand that there are some groups that are paid to foment that kind of unrest.” When Norris led an effort to give election officials the discretion to require proof of citizenship to vote, opponents argued that this would result in “racial profiling.” Again, rather than attempting to address these legitimate concerns, Norris was indifferent, saying “I don’t think the members feel there is a profiling concern here at all.”

The Alliance for Justice background report on Mark Norris is here.

#RFingTheCourts #WhitewashingTheBench

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