Trump Judicial Nominee Questions the Need for Laws Protecting Women

Texas Supreme Court Justice Don Willett, nominated for a federal appeals court, once took issue with the notion of better 'working conditions' for women, including pay equity and sexual harassment protections. (Image credit: YouTube)

Texas Supreme Court Justice Don Willett, a Trump nominee for the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, once questioned the need for laws protecting women in a memo to his boss at the time, former Governor George W. Bush.

According to Think Progress,

The future judicial nominee also urged Bush to strip language from the proclamation supporting women’s right to receive equal pay for equal work, as well as their right to be free from sexual harassment in the workplace. “I resist the proclamation’s talk of ‘glass ceilings,’ pay equity (an allegation that some studies debunk), the need to place kids in the care of rented strangers, sexual discrimination/harassment, and the need generally for better ‘working conditions’ for women (read: more government).”

When Willett wrote the 1998 memo, he was serving as Bush’s director of research and special projects. His words were in response to Bush's planned remarks praising the Texas Federation of Business and Professional Women - a group with which Willett was clearly displeased:

The memo mocked the policy positions of the Texas Federation of Business and Professional Women, which Bush planned to praise in an official proclamation. “Issue-wise,” Willett wrote regarding the Texas women’s group, “they support the ERA, affirmative action, abortion rights, legislation adding teeth to the Equal Pay Act, etc. and they regularly line up with the AFL-CIO and similar groups.”

The memo is nearly 20 years old, but Think Progress notes Willett's views seem to have changed little in that time.

In a 2015 opinion, Willett expressed sympathy for a discredited 1905 Supreme Court opinion called Lochner v. New York. Lochner‘s reasoning was used by conservative justices in the early part of the 20th century to strike down a wide range of laws protecting workers, including minimum wage laws and laws protecting the right to unionize.