Menendez Opposes Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Nominee

Menendez Opposes Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Nominee


WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) today announced his opposition to Kyle Duncan, President Trump’s nominee for the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Citing his long career of trying to suppress the rights of immigrants, minorities, women and the LGBTQ community, Sen. Menendez said Duncan’s “values are grossly out of touch with a modern and inclusive America”.

Sen. Menendez’s full remarks, as prepared, are below.

“M. President, I rise today to speak in opposition to the nomination of Kyle Duncan to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

“Mr. Duncan has spent large portions of his legal career seeking to suppress the rights of immigrants, minorities, women, and the LGBTQ community. In short, his values are grossly out of touch with a modern and inclusive America.

“I can’t say I’m surprised that Mr. Duncan has been nominated by a President who has called Mexicans rapists and drug dealers.  President Trump and Mr. Duncan share the same extreme political ideology, especially regarding their views of immigrants.

“Mr. Duncan, in an amicus brief challenging the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents program (DAPA), wrote that permitting DAPA to go into effect would “exacerbate the problem of violent crime by unauthorized immigrants . . .” This position advances the false and offensive narrative that a majority of immigrants are violent criminals.

“In fact, DAPA was a program that would have allowed the PARENT of a U.S. citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident who had lived in the U.S. continuously for years and passed a criminal background check to remain in the United States with legal status and a work permit.

“This program was never implemented but would have kept families together. To suggest that it would have benefitted criminals and threatened public safety is just plain wrong!  It fits with the Republican Party’s misleading and racist attacks on immigrants in this country!

“Mr. Duncan makes these arguments despite overwhelming evidence that immigrants commit less crime than native-born Americans. And numerous law enforcement entities have voiced their support for DAPA because the program actually advances public safety by encouraging cooperation and trust between immigrant communities and the police.

“A year after voicing his opposition to DAPA, Mr. Duncan submitted another amicus brief, this time, he argued against the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program claiming that it was unconstitutional.

“So we know where Mr. Duncan stands in stereotyping immigrants. 

“But Mr. Duncan is not just hostile to immigrants.  He represented North Carolina in its defense of a discriminatory voting law urging the Supreme Court to hear the case.  In a brief Duncan wrote: “The Constitution does not allow the sins of Civil Rights-era legislators to be visited on their grandchildren and great-grandchildren.” Yet, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals had found that the law was enacted with discriminatory intent and “targeted African Americans with almost surgical precision.”

“Mr. Duncan appeared to have clearly missed the point as to who the real victims were.

“In another voting rights case, Duncan argued that Texas’ restrictive voter ID law helped to “prevent voter fraud”.

“Although this myth has been debunked over and over again, the Republican Party, President Trump, and Mr. Duncan continue to perpetuate this lie to the American people in an effort to suppress the voting rights of others.

“I would be remiss if I ended these remarks without noting Mr. Duncan’s extremely troubling record on reproductive rights and his hostility toward the LGBTQ community. 

“He has continuously fought to restrict women’s access to contraceptives.  In 2013, he criticized the Affordable Care Act’s inclusion of contraceptives as an essential benefit for the health and economic success of society, particularly women.

“Given that he holds these views, it seems fitting that Mr. Duncan would serve at the lead counsel in Hobby Lobby v. Burwell, in which he argued that corporations have the right to deny contraceptive coverage to their employees.

“I’m sure he was pleased when the Supreme Court agreed with him.

“Yet, when the Supreme Court handed down its decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, which recognized same-sex marriage as a fundamental right, Duncan said that such a decision “raises a question about the legitimacy of the Court.”  This comment cuts to the core of my opposition to Mr. Duncan, his disregard and contempt for judicial precedent he disagrees with.

“Even before the Supreme Court considered same sex marriage, Duncan warned that if courts granted the right to same-sex marriage, then they might have to grant the right to marry a first cousin, or a 13-year old.

“To clarify, this is a man who believes that the rights of a corporation to deny employees health care is perfectly constitutional, yet granting the right to same-sex marriage will lead us down a road to child marriage.

“M. President, my Republican colleagues are on a furious quest to pack the federal bench with conservative judges. Judges who hold outrageous views, views out of step with the American public.

“I do not trust, nor does his record suggest, that once Mr. Duncan puts on the judicial robe that he will uphold the rule of law for ALL Americans and not just those who share his ideological views. 

“I do not believe he can be an unbiased jurist.  And that’s exactly why the President nominated him and his supporters will vote for him.

“I urge my colleagues to oppose the nomination of Mr. Duncan.”