Senator grills judicial nominee over old tweet about wanting to marry bacon

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 13: Senate Judicary Committee ranking member Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), speaks during a Senate Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Subcommittee hearing on the Justice Department's proposed FY18 budget on Capitol Hill on June 13, 2017 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)
Sen. Patrick Leahy Zach Gibson/Getty Images
  • Federal judge nominee Don Willett tweeted a joke in 2015 about marrying bacon.
  • Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy questioned whether that made him disrespectful of Supreme Court precedent.

WASHINGTON — Patrick Leahy, a top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, on Wednesday questioned a federal judgeship nominee’s ability to interpret Supreme Court precedent over a tweet about wanting a constitutional right to marry bacon.

Texas Supreme Court Justice Don Willett, who has been nominated to serve as United States Circuit Judge for the Fifth Circuit, wrote on Twitter in 2015 around the same time as the Supreme Court decision that legalised same-sex marriage that “I could support recognising a constitutional right to marry bacon,” alongside an image of crackling breakfast dish.

Don Willett (JusticeWillett on Twitter)

In Wednesday’s confirmation hearing, Leahy suggested that the bacon tweet showed Willett’s disdain for the Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, which legalised same-sex marriages.

“I don’t think one would see that as praising the Supreme Court decisions,” Leahy said of the tweet.

Willett explained that he meant the tweet as a mild joke to lighten the tension in a tense political climate.

“Senator, as for the bacon tweet, that was the day after the Obergfell decision was issued and it was my attempt to inject a bit of levity,” he said. “The country was filled with rancor and polarization. It was a divisive time in the nation.”

Leahy followed up, asking Willett, “And you think that cut back the divisiveness with a comment like that?”

“Senator, I believe every American is entitled to equal worth and dignity,” Willett said. “I’ve never intended to disparage anyone and would never do so. That’s not where my heart is.”