HRC Responds to Senate Confirmation of Extremist Anti-LGBTQ Judicial Nominee Kyle Duncan
From an HRC press release:
WASHINGTON Today, the Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ), the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer ( LGBTQ ) civil rights organization, responded to the U.S. Senate's confirmation of extremist, anti-LGBTQ nominee Kyle Duncan, put forward by the Trump-Pence Administration to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. The Senate voted 50 to 47 to confirm the nomination.
"In a string of anti-equality nominees from the Trump-Pence administration, Kyle Duncan stands out for his long career fighting to limit the legal protections for LGBTQ Americans," said David Stacy, HRC Government Affairs Director. "Americans deserve judges we can trust to apply our laws faithfully and administer equal justice under those laws. Kyle Duncan fails that test. It is unconscionable that the Senate has rubber stamped yet another unfit and extreme nominee to a lifetime appointment to the federal bench."
Duncan's record of anti-LGBTQ advocacy is alarming. He represented the Gloucester County School Board in their case against Gavin Grimm, the transgender high school student whose restroom access was restricted based on his transgender status. He advocated on behalf of Louisiana in the state's bid to uphold its same-sex marriage ban and wrote an amicus brief for Louisiana and 14 other states arguing against the fundamental right to marry in the landmark Supreme Court case Obergefell v. Hodges. He also argued that a couple married in New York could not have their names added to the birth certificate of a child they adopted in Louisiana because the state did not recognize same-sex marriages at the time and its adoption statute does not allow unmarried couples to adopt.
Last week, Politico reported that Mitch McConnell is attempting to ram through extremist judicial nominees in what may be his final months as Senate Majority Leader should Democrats retake the chamber in November.
Planned Parenthood Condemns Senate Vote to Confirm Kyle Duncan for Lifetime Judicial Appointment
Trump-Pence Administration Continues to Reshape Federal Judiciary with Extreme Lifetime Judicial Appointments
From a Planned Parenthood press release:
WASHINGTON D.C. - Today, the U.S. Senate confirmed Kyle Duncan for the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which includes Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Duncan has a long record of actively working against women's health and rights, including fighting against access to birth control and defending laws designed to inhibit women's access to their constitutional right to abortion. His record has earned him the support of anti-abortion groups such as Americans United for Life, Susan B. Anthony List, Concerned Women for America, and the Family Research Council. Duncan also represented North Carolina in his defense of a photo ID law that has been described as disenfranchising Black voters "with almost surgical precision." He has also been a vocal advocate against same-sex marriage.
Statement from Dana Singiser, Vice President for Government Relations and Public Policy, Planned Parenthood Action Fund:
"Kyle Duncan is unfit for a lifetime appointment to the Fifth Circuit. He has dismissed the importance of birth control, defended extreme anti-abortion laws that imposed medically unnecessary restrictions on abortion providers, and advocated for laws that deprive LGBTQ people of their rights. The idea that Duncan would be impartial and respect legal precedent that protects people's rights and access to care is absurd. President Trump is radically remaking an entire branch of government. These lifetime appointments are being filled with people who have a track record of working against women's health and rights. "
There are currently 149 federal judicial vacancies, and each one is a lifetime appointment. In recent months, Senate leadership has subverted the Senate's rules and well-established procedure to jam President Trump's nominees through. To do that, committee leaders changed the long-standing rule of requiring receipt of support of a nominee, via a "blue slip," by each home-state senator. Even Duncan's home-state senator, Sen. John Kennedy, did not return a "blue slip" for Duncan. This should have precluded Duncan's nomination from moving forward.
Background: Duncan's long history of working to restrict women's health and rights:
Duncan vigorously fought against the contraceptive mandate in the Affordable Care Act. Duncan has even gone so far as to dismiss the importance of access to contraception.
Duncan served as general counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a group that has fought against advancements for women's reproductive rights under the banner of "religious freedom." Duncan was lead counsel in Hobby Lobby v. Burwell, in which the Supreme Court held in a 5-4 decision that for-profit corporations can have religious beliefs and can deny contraceptive coverage as part of their employer-sponsored health insurance plans when contraception conflicts with those beliefs.
Duncan co-authored an amicus brief in Zubik v. Burwell, another case that challenged the Affordable Care Act's contraceptive mandate, arguing that the government accommodation for religious institutions in regards to contraception was not enough. Duncan stated, "[t]he so-called 'accommodation' no less than the original Mandate continues to coerce" objectors into "complicity with wrongdoing."
As part of his long history of defending anti-abortion laws, Duncan defended a Texas law in 1999 that targeted medical offices providing 300 or more abortion procedures per year, requiring them to become licensed as abortion facilities and comply with onerous and medically unnecessary regulations. He argued that the anti-abortion law "made abortions safer by regulating high-volume clinics and increasing the criminal liability of doctors who perform abortions without a license." These are common tactics used by anti-abortion advocates to perpetuate the myth that an abortion is an unsafe procedure, while their true goal is to make abortion harder to access.