A few weeks ago the Trump administration released a number of judicial nominations based in Louisiana and Texas and conservatives in those two states rejoiced, as the prospective appointees represented a bold, aggressive move toward re-orienting the judiciary toward the Constitution.
Maybe the most intriguing of those nominees was Kyle Duncan, a brilliant constitutional attorney with a list of high-profile representations – including serving as the lead lawyer in the Hobby Lobby case. Duncan is up for a seat on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, based in New Orleans.
Carrie Severino, who heads the conservative Judicial Crisis Network, penned a post at National Review back in late September when Duncan was nominated. From that post…
Kyle served four years as Louisiana’s first Solicitor General, performing so well that he has since been called back to represent the state repeatedly as special counsel. He also has extensive experience throughout the Fifth Circuit: before returning home to become Solicitor General, he worked in the Texas Solicitor General’s office and as a professor at the University of Mississippi School of Law. That has given him the chance not only to practice before the court to which he has been nominated, but also before the Louisiana and Texas Supreme Courts – not to mention having argued twice before the U.S. Supreme Court. The president has found someone with deep Louisiana roots, an intimate knowledge of the Fifth Circuit, and a national reputation for excellence.
I have watched Kyle successfully handle high stakes litigation in courts across the country, including the Supreme Court, and he is a superstar who can translate sophisticated arguments for the general public. His knack for thoughtful and incisive legal analysis will serve him well on the Fifth Circuit, as will his humility and integrity. Kyle is the complete package. On a personal level, I am proud to call Kyle a friend. I eagerly anticipate his confirmation.
And since then, Duncan’s name has begun percolating more and more as a must-get on the Fifth Circuit among conservative legal types around the state. He’s an LSU and LSU Law grad, and a Baton Rouge Catholic High alumnus who’s successfully made a name for himself in Texas, Mississippi and D.C. as well as the Bayou State.
Severino’s organization now has an ad campaign up supporting Duncan, which stars Louisiana’s Attorney General…
So why is this push necessary? It would seem that such a distinguished nominee would find enthusiastic support from Louisiana’s two senators, and whatever problems there might be in getting him confirmed would come from Democrats in the Senate who hail from someplace far away from the Fifth Circuit.
But for reasons we can’t quite understand, we’ve been told that Sen. John Kennedy is a detractor.
Now – we’ve asked about this with Kennedy’s people, and we’ve yet to hear a response. It could well be this is all a question of emphasis, and Kennedy is spending most of his time at the moment touting the tax reform bill on Capitol Hill. Maybe he just hasn’t addressed the Duncan issue yet and those who think he opposes Duncan are overreacting.
The other possibility is Kennedy actually opposes Duncan, and we wouldn’t understand that one at all.
We were told, and we don’t believe it, that Duncan is supposedly “not Louisiana enough” to satisfy the Senator. That can’t be right – Duncan is from Baton Rouge and he bleeds purple and gold. How is he not Louisiana enough? What, is he supposed to be crooked and that would make him Louisiana enough? Not to mention this is a nomination for the Fifth Circuit which includes states other than Louisiana (Texas and Mississippi, specifically). “Louisiana enough” is not a meaningful requirement for that job.
This is worth watching, even though it has to be a tempest in a teapot. Has to be. If it isn’t then there will be lots of people questioning whether Kennedy is a conservative after all.