President Donald Trump this week nominated William M. McSwain to serve as U.S. Attorney for Philadelphia, despite McSwain's prior record of minimizing the civil rights of LGBT people.
During a two-week federal trial in 2010, McSwain represented a local Boy Scouts organization that sought to exclude gay participants while remaining headquartered in a city-owned building without paying any rent.
When LGBT advocates opposed the arrangement, McSwain castigated them as somehow acting improperly. McSwain took particular aim at LGBT advocate Arthur Kaplan, claiming he wanted to "destroy" Scouting.
McSwain also spoke dismissively about the civil rights of Greg Lattera, a gay Scout in Philadelphia who was expelled from the organization after coming out.
McSwain never has apologized for his attacks on the local LGBT community during the 2010 trial.
The Scouts subsequently left the city-owned building, which reportedly is used by city workers for office space. The Scouts also enacted updated membership policies that include acceptance of LGBT participants.
McSwain, 48, didn't immediately respond to comment on whether he agrees with the Scouts' current policy of accepting LGBT participants.
McSwain's nomination still must be approved by the U.S. Senate, which appears likely. Pennsylvania's two U.S. senators support McSwain's nomination.
“I am pleased that this important post has been appointed," said U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D), in an statement. "Mr. McSwain has extensive legal and prosecutorial experience and I believe he will work to uphold the rule of law and ensure the fair administration of justice.”
“In addition to his vast amount of experience in both the private and public sectors, Mr. McSwain is committed to the rule of law and is dedicated to ensuring everyone is treated fairly under it," said U.S. Senator Pat Toomey (R), in a statement. "I have no doubt that Mr. McSwain will serve the Eastern District of Pennsylvania with honor and distinction.”
McSwain, who lives in West Chester, currently works at the Center City law firm Drinker, Biddle & Reath. Prior to joining Drinker in 2006, he served as a federal prosecutor in the region.
McSwain has a law degree from Harvard University, according to published reports.
As the region's top prosecutor, he'll set priorities for a workforce of about 130 attorneys and oversee federal prosecutions and civil matters in Philadelphia, Montgomery, Delaware, Chester, Berks, Bucks, Lancaster, Lehigh and Northampton counties.
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