Leaders and Advocates: Duncan and Vitter Are Unfit to Serve as Judges in Louisiana

Courts, Human Rights 04.16,18

WASHINGTON – Today, civil rights leaders and Louisiana advocates held a telephone press briefing in opposition to President Trump’s nomination of Stuart Kyle Duncan to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and Wendy Vitter to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.

Click here for a recording of the call.

Kristine Lucius, executive vice president for policy at The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, was joined by Derrick Johnson, president and CEO, NAACP; Madelyn Fireman, National Council of Jewish Women Louisiana State Policy Advocacy Co-Chair; Oren Adar, parent and Lambda Legal client who has faced Kyle Duncan in court; and Caroline L’huillier, Iraq war veteran and Louisiana native, who was expelled from the military in 2014 for being transgender.

“President Trump’s judicial nominees have been a frightening parade of ideologues, and Wendy Vitter and Stuart Kyle Duncan are two of the worst,” said Kristine Lucius, executive vice president for policy at The Leadership Conference. “During her confirmation hearing last week, Ms. Vitter was unwilling to acknowledge that the U.S. Supreme Court correctly decided Brown v. Board of Education. She also misrepresented her views on women’s health. Stuart Kyle Duncan is another nominee from the far-right fringe. He has led the right-wing movement to diminish LGBTQ rights, worked to undermine DACA, and defended the monster voter suppression law in North Carolina. The Senate must confirm honest and fair-minded nominees to serve in the federal judiciary, not people like Vitter and Duncan.”

“Vitter and Duncan join a growing roster of Trump nominees, including Thomas Farr, with documented hostility regarding the rights of communities of color,” said NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson. “Duncan has built his career on a platform in opposition to voting rights, immigrant rights, and criminal justice reform and Vitter refused to openly support the Brown v. Board of Education ruling. The Senate’s action on nominees for such lifetime appointments will define our nation’s landscape for generations. If this is the best this administration can do, our entire nation is in trouble.”

“The National Council of Jewish Women has worked to safeguard individual rights and freedoms for 125 years. The judiciary affects every aspect of our lives, and the lives of future generations, which is why we need it to be fair, independent, and diverse. Kyle Duncan and Wendy Vitter both have long records of extreme hostility toward the values we hold most dear. We strongly oppose the nominations of Duncan and Vitter, and urge Senators Cassidy and Kennedy to follow suit,” said Madelyn Fireman, National Council of Jewish Women Louisiana State Policy Advocacy Co-Chair.

“Like any parent, I would do anything to protect my child and make sure he is happy, healthy, and safe,” said Oren Adar, parent and Lambda Legal client who faced Kyle Duncan in court. “When Kyle Duncan was Louisiana’s Assistant Attorney General, he spent years and countless taxpayer resources to deny my son a birth certificate, affording him access to critical health insurance, all because his two adoptive parents were gay. Kyle Duncan was unable to put aside his personal politics and ideologically-fueled activism, which makes him categorically unfit to serve as a federal judge on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. My family and Lambda Legal were committed to securing all of the legal protections my son was entitled to, no matter how many times Kyle Duncan treated us like second-class citizens.”

“Transgender people have shown themselves more than capable to serve openly in the military. Thousands of transgender recruits like myself have served with honor and distinction. Discrimination based on fear is never okay, and we need a judge who will apply the law fairly to all. Duncan’s appointment could threaten transgender veterans with continuation of the hurtful policies and divisive practices in place during my time in the service,” said Caroline L’huillier, Iraq war veteran and Louisiana native.

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 200 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States. The Leadership Conference works toward an America as good as its ideals. For more information on The Leadership Conference and its member organizations, visit www.civilrights.org.