Steven Menashi, the president’s nomination for the Court of Appeals Second Circuit, wrote in an academic journal that “ethnic ties provide the groundwork for social trust” and “solidarity underlying democratic polities rests in large part on ethnic identification”.
“Surely, it does not serve the cause of liberal democracy to ignore this reality,” he added in the 2010 article for the University of Pennsylvania Journal of International Law.
The passages resurfaced on social media following the announcement of Mr Menashi’s nomination on Wednesday and were later discussed on air by MSNBC host Rachel Maddow, who described them as “a highbrow argument for racial purity in the nation state”.
In the journal article, titled “Ethnonationalism and Liberal Democracy”, the lawyer says he aims to refute claims that “Israel’s particularistic identity — its desire to serve as a homeland for the Jewish people — contradicts principles of universalism and equality upon which liberal democracy supposedly rests”.
“This article, in contrast, argues that ethnonationalism remains a common and accepted feature of liberal democracy, consistent with current state practice and international law,” he writes.
On November 14, 2019, Senate Republicans overwhelmingly voted to approve Menashi to a lifetime appointment.