Nomination of Kyle Duncan approved by Senate Judiciary Committee, now ripe for final action by the full U.S. Senate
UPDATE -- On January 18, 2018, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved the nomination of Kyle Duncan to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, on a party-line vote of 11-10. The nomination is now awaiting a debate and final confirmation vote on the floor of the U.S. Senate.
(On February 8, 2018, the Senate Judiciary Committee also approved the nomination of Judge Kurt Engelhardt to another Louisiana-associated seat on the 5th Circuit, by a vote of 15-6. This nomination is also now ripe for final action on the Senate floor.)
An earlier update appears below.
Right to Life welcomes announcement by Sen. Kennedy
of support for 5th Circuit nominee Kyle Duncan
Dec. 1, 2017 -- Together with National Right to Life, Louisiana Right to Life welcomes the Nov. 30 announcement by Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) that he will vote to confirm eminent attorney Kyle Duncan to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Benjamin Clapper, executive director of Louisiana Right to Life, said: "Mr. Duncan is a highly qualified nominee with deep Louisiana roots. National Right to Life and Louisiana Right to Life, in radio ads and other communications, had encouraged Louisiana citizens to contact Sen. Kennedy's offices in support of Mr. Duncan, and thousands did so. After eight years of appointments by President Obama, the federal judiciary is heavily populated with liberal activists who believe they have a license to impose their policy preferences by decree. With consequential decisions being made daily by federal courts across America, time is of the essence in confirming nominees who will respect the proper separation of constitutional powers."
An earlier National Right to Life action alert on this issue follows:
National Right to Life asks that Louisiana residents phone the office of U.S. Senator John Kennedy, to urge that he SUPPORT President Trump's recent nomination of eminent conservative attorney Kyle Duncan to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit.
Senator Kennedy, who is a member of the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee, says that he is UNDECIDED on the Duncan nomination.
Please phone Senator Kennedy's office -- his Washington, D.C. office at 202-224-4623, or his Baton Rouge ofice at 225-926-8033, or both -- to urge him to SUPPORT the nomination of Kyle Duncan to the federal court.THE COURT AND THE NOMINEE
On October 2, 2017, President Trump nominated Kyle Duncan to a vacant seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, based in New Orleans. This is a high-level federal court, only one level under the U.S. Supreme Court. It has review power over all federal litigation -- including all lawsuits against pro-life laws -- for the states of Louisiana, Texas, and Mississippi.
Kyle Duncan, age 45, was born and raised in Baton Rouge. His undergraduate and law degrees were earned at LSU. He has had a very distinguished 20-year record as an attorney.
Among other distinctions, Duncan served as chief of appeals for the Louisiana attorney general's office from 2008 until 2012, representing the state and various public officials before every level of federal court, including the U.S. Supreme Court and 5th Circuit, and before the Louisiana Supreme Court. He capably defended pro-life laws on behalf of both Louisiana and Texas. He was successful in litigation on other issues as well -- for example, in Connick v. Thompson
, Duncan persuaded the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse a $20 million judgment against a Louisiana district attorney. More recently (2012-2014), Duncan was general counsel of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a public interest law firm, and in that capacity achieved notable court victories in a number of religious liberty cases, including a challenge by Hobby Lobby to the Obama birth-control mandate (2014).
Duncan's nomination to the court of appeals was applauded by a broad range of pro-life and conservative groups, including those associated with National Right to Life, Louisiana Right to Life, the Susan B. Anthony List, Americans United for Life, the Family Research Council, the Federalist Society, and the Judicial Crisis Network. For example, Douglas D. Johnson, senior policy advisor for National Right to Life, said: "Kyle Duncan has an impressive record as an appellate attorney, including successful litigation in defense of laws regulating abortion enacted by Louisiana and Texas. Among his areas of special expertise is the free exercise of religion. We strongly support his swift confirmation by the U.S. Senate."
U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Lousiana Attorney General Jeff Landry also expressed strong support for Duncan's nomination. You can read Landry's op ed in support of Duncan's confirmation here
In addition, the Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary of the American Bar Association has rated Kyle Duncan as "well qualified" for the 5th Circuit vacancy.
Predictably, Kyle Duncan is under attack from pro-abortion groups because of his history of defending pro-life laws, and from other left-leaning groups because of his conservative judicial philosophy. Therefore, it is highly likely that every Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee will oppose the nomination. Ordinarily this would not prevent confirmation, since Republicans hold an 11-9 majority on the Judiciary Committee. However, that narrow Republican majority includes freshman Republican Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana -- and Senator Kennedy has repeatedly told reporters, as recently as November 28, that he is undecided on whether to vote to confirm Duncan. [Note: As reported in the update at the top of this page, on November 30, Sen. Kennedy announced that he plans to vote to confirm Duncan.]
If Senator Kennedy were to vote with the solid bloc of Democrats against Duncan, in the Senate Judiciary Committee, it would probably kill the nomination. In addition to derailing a nominee who could bring an articulate voice for judicial restraint to the 5th Circuit for decades to come, such an outcome would embolden the left-wing forces that are waging a multi-faceted campaign to derail as many of President Trump's judicial conservative nominees as possible.
If you require further information regarding the Kyle Duncan nomination, or regarding the procedures by which the U.S. Senate reviews judicial nominations, please call the National Right to Life Federal Legislation Department at 202-626-8820, or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org