How extensive are the ties between the fourth-highest-ranking Justice Department official and a right-wing, anti-LGBTQ hate group? The Trump administration won’t disclose all the details, but you should know who Solicitor General Noel Francisco is and what he’s doing Behind the Scenes. 

Noel Francisco has significant, known ties to a group called the Alliance Defending Freedom.

ADF has described its mission as equipping attorneys to “battle the homosexual agenda,” and, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the ADF is an “Anti-LGBT Hate Group.” Over the last decade, the group has been involved in a wide range of attacks on the LGBTQ community—including fighting for states to roll back non-discrimination laws protecting LGBTQ people, fighting against marriage equality, and even defending the sterilization of transgender people.

While in private practice at Jones Day, Francisco supported ADF’s work. As a partner at the firm, he participated in an ADF-affiliated panel on law firm recruiting, and even joined forces as co-counsel with the group in a case in 2016. The same year, ADF press releases about the case celebrated Francisco as a “private attorney allied with ADF,” though they have since claimed that description was a mistake.

As Solicitor General, Francisco stood shoulder to shoulder with ADF to argue against stronger protections for LGBTQ Americans before the Supreme Court in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission (the “wedding cake” case).

As Solicitor General—the Trump administration’s voice before the Supreme Court— Francisco and his office have taken on and argued positions that fit with ADF’s anti-LGBTQ worldview.

In August 2019, Francisco argued in a Supreme Court amicus brief that transgender workers are not protected by the Civil Rights Act’s Title VII employment protections.

And other DOJ offices have joined in as well. Most recently, DOJ’s Civil Rights division filed a “statement of interest” in a lawsuit brought by a married gay high school teacher who was fired from a Catholic school because of his marriage. The Trump administration’s brief supported the firing.

Even with all these reported ties, the Trump administration has refused to disclose the full scope and specific nature of the Solicitor General’s relationship with ADF. But that’s not all we have questions about.

Here’s more of what we want to know:

  • As Solicitor General, how often has Francisco communicated with ADF staff?
  • How often has he met with ADF staff in his official capacity?
  • How strongly does Francisco share ADF’s anti-LGBTQ worldview, and how has he applied it in the Solicitor General’s office and at DOJ more broadly?
  • Has Francisco bypassed or disregarded career attorneys in his office and in other litigating divisions when formulating the United States’ litigation position on particular issues?