President Donald Trump’s federal bench nominee in Michigan reportedly withdrew after complaints from a conservative senator he compared a Catholic family’s beliefs to racism.
Citing two unnamed sources, The Washington Times reported Michael Bogren wrote a letter withdrawing his name from consideration — and the Senate Judiciary Committee expects to be notified later this week.
Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., a member of the panel, accused Bogren of a “scorched-earth strategy” when he served as a lawyer for East Lansing, Michigan, in a legal battle with a Catholic couple whom the city banned from taking part in a farmer’s market.
The city instituted the ban after the couple refused to allow their orchard to be rented to same-sex couples for weddings.
“This is the right outcome if this is accurate,” Hawley told the news outlet. “I applaud that result.”
At a his hearing in May, Bogren was confronted about his arguments in the case against the Catholic couple, including comparing them to the Ku Klux Klan.
“The point I was trying to make was that religious beliefs trying to justify discrimination if extended to sexual orientation, which the City of East Lansing protects, could be used to try to justify any other discrimination whether it be gender or race,” the nominee said.
Hawley said Bogren went too far.
“He said there is no distinction between a Catholic family following the teachings of its church and scripture and a KKK member invoking Christianity for [his] own ends,” Hawley told the news outlet. “That’s just wrong.”
Margot Cleveland, an adjunct law professor at the University of Notre Dame, blasted the opposition to Bogren, whom she said is her cousin.
“It is unjust to use Mike’s legal advocacy to cast him as an anti-Catholic bigot – and, in fact, in another case he defended a Methodist resort in its efforts to maintain its Christian character against attacks,” Cleveland told The Washington Times.