WASHINGTON, DC – Senators confirmed conservative legal champion Kyle Duncan to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit on Tuesday, President Trump’s 15th confirmed lifetime appointment to the federal appellate courts.
Duncan’s nomination had been delayed as part of Democrats’ unprecedented obstruction on Capitol Hill, despite the fact that he is a former Louisiana solicitor general, law professor, Supreme Court litigator, and clerked for a Fifth Circuit judge.
The 46-year-old Duncan is well-known in the legal community for championing the full range of conservative issues, including litigating for conservative values regarding LGBT issues. He is respected as a soft-spoken Christian gentleman. He is also a prominent Federalist Society member, whose commitment to textualist legal interpretation and originalist constitutional interpretation is exactly what President Trump promised voters.
The Judicial Crisis Network (JCN) made Duncan’s confirmation a top priority, organizing grassroots support to move his name through the ongoing Senate gridlock. JCN ran a six-figure ad campaign touting Duncan’s qualifications.
“Congratulations to my friend Kyle Duncan on his confirmation to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals,” said Carrie Severino, JCN’s chief counsel and policy director. “President Trump selected one of the best lawyers of his generation, someone who has served and will continue Louisiana with distinction.” (Louisiana, Texas, and Mississippi are the three states comprising the Fifth Circuit, and the court sits in the Louisiana city of New Orleans.)
“It was sad that only one Democrat was willing to break ranks and vote for such an impressive nominee,” Severino added, denouncing that fact as “a sign of how extreme [Democrats] have become, and another reason we need more conservative Republicans in the Senate.”
Democrats’ no votes against Duncan include Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), all representing Trump states and who are up for reelection in 2018. Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL)–who is not up until 2020–also voted no, noteworthy because Jones initially voted with Republicans on several matters, but now appears to be siding with the liberal base of his party instead of deep-red Alabama.
Experts were especially surprised that three vulnerable red-state Democrats voted against Duncan’s fitness to serve on the appeals court.
Sen. Claire McCaskill is in a tough fight against Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley and has consistently opposed President Trump’s nominees who pledge to follow the original meaning of the Constitution.
Sen. Heidi Heitkamp is likewise vulnerable in North Dakota, where Rep. Kevin Cramer poses a serious challenge, and voters favor judicial nominees with records of following the law as written instead of ruling according to their personal political preferences.
Sen. Joe Donnelly is similarly in trouble in Indiana, where Rep. Luke Messer and Rep. Todd Rokita are vying for the GOP nomination to take him on in November. Donnelly has built a record of voting against federal judges who favor the Second Amendment, protecting religious liberty, and limiting the federal government’s power – all of which are popular in the Hoosier state.
Judges are very important to voters in all these states, and Republican pickups would likely result in more Trump judicial nominees getting confirmed to lifetime judgeships.
Ken Klukowski is senior legal editor for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @kenklukowski.