Come Again?

A Trump judge is using this unscrupulous tactic to trip up LGBTQ+ civil rights lawyers

Alabama judge Liles C. Burke is causing more than a few eyebrows to raise over a recent inquiry. The federal judge and Trump apointee is currently trying to sanction a number of LGBTQ+ civil rights lawyers for allegedly “judge-shopping” in a case that would challenge Alabama’s ban on gender-affirming health care for teens.

It’s more than a bit hypocritical, seeing as Burke seems to be doing exactly what he’s accusing the lawyers of doing: making sure that the choice of judge in the ongoing dispute leads to the conclusion he might personally prefer, one that keeps trans kids turning to alternative and illegal methods of finding gender-affirming care.

As reported by Chris Geidner of Law Dork, Burke issued on order on Friday that detailed the Alabama judge’s order to release a Q & A document which allegedly would provide proof of “judge-shopping,” a practice whereby lawyers try to get assigned a judge who will be more biased toward their case.

But as usual with anyone having anything to do with Trump, there’s something fishy going on. While Burke’s order explains that a three-judge panel came to a unanimous agreement that the lawyers in question engaged in judge-shopping, he doesn’t address any concerns as to the panel’s process or credentials. Since all three judges on this panel are Republicans, you can see why it might, you know, matter. If we’re speaking of bias, which we are!

“Far from addressing those concerns,” Geidner writes, “Burke instead credited the panel’s conclusions as fact — highlighting that the three-Republican-appointee panel reached its conclusions “unanimously” (or was “unanimous”) a dozen times in his order — without so much as acknowledging the filings by the lawyers disputing those findings or questioning the panel’s process.”

It’s worrisome to anyone following the case in Alabama—already a deeply red state—to see that a judge with seemingly clear bias is openly acting on that bias.

While Burke did block an earlier iteration of the gender-affirming care ban in 2022, he seems committed to finding a way to punish the judges opposing it.

A Friday order suggests that U.S. District Judge Liles Burke is disturbingly eager and ready to sanction at least some of the 11 attorneys involved in the LGBTQ civil rights litigation at the center of the Alabama judge-shopping “inquiry”
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