UPDATE: Bush was confirmed by a 51–47 vote.
John Bush is a lawyer who, for many years, wrote for a conservative blog under a pseudonym. He believes that “the two greatest tragedies in our country” are “slavery and abortion.” And that “public financing of campaigns” is “constitutionally dubious.” He once used an infamous slur against gay people in a speech praising his home town of Louisville.
In one blog post, which consisted largely of a single image, he appeared to suggest that deadly force is the appropriate response to Obama supporters who commit minor property crimes.
And yet, by the end of Thursday, it is likely that Bush will be confirmed as a judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.
Bush, who graduated from Harvard Law School and is now a partner at a large corporate law firm, has many of the qualifications normally found in a judicial nominee. The opposition to Bush’s nomination, which has grown to include every Democrat in the Senate, focuses less on his resume and more on his history of publishing deeply conservative views on a blog run by his wife — as well as similar views offered in various speeches.
His slur against gay people occurred part-way through a speech he gave in 2005 to a private club. In it, Bush favorably quoted the gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson’s description of Louisville: “I come here every year, and let me tell you one thing I’ve learned — this is no town to be giving people the impression that you’re some kind of faggot.”
In fairness, these were originally Thompson’s words and not Bush’s, but Bush’s other writings leave little doubt about his feelings towards gay people and their rights.
After the State Department changed its passport application forms to refer to parents in a gender-neutral way — an acknowledgement of the fact that some same-sex couples have children — Bush wrote an angry blog post.
Noting that the new forms ask the applicant to name their “Mother or Parent 1” and “Father or Parent 2,” Bush wrote that “it’s just like the government to decide it needs to decide something like which parent is number one or number two. When that happens, both parents are subservient to the nanny state — more precisely, a nanny Secretary of State.”
Bush’s comparison between abortion and slavery occurred in a blog post entitled “The Legacy From Dr. King’s Dream That Liberals Ignore.” Bush argued there that the civil rights leader would have opposed Roe v. Wade if he’d lived to see that case handed down.
In reality, King supported efforts to increase access to birth control and said in 1960 that he’s “always been deeply interested in and sympathetic with the total work of the Planned Parenthood Federation.” There’s no evidence indicating that he would have opposed a constitutional right to abortion.
Bush also holds idiosyncratic views about the First Amendment. In addition to his mistaken belief that public financing systems are unconstitutional, Bush suggested that a seminal Supreme Court decision protecting journalists and others from malicious libel suits “probably wasn’t correctly decided.”
Meanwhile, Donald Trump, who nominated Bush, said he was “going to open up our libel laws” if elected president in order to target reporters who write things Trump believes to be “horrible and false.”
At Bush’s confirmation hearing, Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) also criticized Bush for relying on reporting from World Net Daily — a notorious conspiracy theory site that promoted the birther libel against President Obama.
Bush wrote a blog post with the grammatically challenged title “‘Brother’s Keeper’ — As In, Keep That Anti-Obama Reporter In Jail!” which implied that then-Senator Obama bore some responsibility for a World Net Daily reporter being detained after this reporter went to Kenya to investigate Obama’s half-brother.
Nevertheless, it appears that Bush’s views are acceptable to Republicans in the Senate. On Wednesday, the Senate voted 51–48 to move forward with Bush’s nomination, entirely on party lines. The final confirmation vote is expected to happen Thursday.