Four of Trump’s most extremist nominees to LIFETIME judicial appointments face imminent votes in the Senate. Call and email Senators Collins and King and demand that they oppose Kyle Duncan, Thomas Farr, Matthew Kacsmaryk, and Howard Nielson.
Trump’s plan to appoint ultra-conservative, extremist judges to lifetime positions in the federal court system is a weapon that will continue to harm Americans long after he is out of office. Trump inherited 100 judicial vacancies and is expected to get many more as current judges retire, and he is methodically filling these vacancies with the most conservative and least diverse group of candidates seen since Reagan held office. While many vacancies have already been filled, there is still time to stop others that should be disqualified from judicial service. The four most concerning nominees right now are Kyle Duncan, Thomas Farr, Matthew Kacsmaryk, and Howard Nielson, all of whom are expected to have imminent senate votes.
KYLE DUNCAN: Nominated to the already conservative 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, Duncan is a particularly dangerous nominee because of his success rate in litigating within the Supreme and lower appellate courts, and his experience promoting conservative religious causes and fighting protections for reproductive freedom and LGBTQ rights. Known most recently for representing the school board that refused transgender student Gavin Grimm’s request to use his school’s male restroom, he also defended a North Carolina House bill that essentially sanctioned government discrimination against LGBTQ individuals, and Hobby Lobby’s challenge to the ACA contraception mandate. Throughout his career, Duncan has also fought to make it more difficult for people of color to vote, for immigrant families to stay together, and for the juvenile justice system to be reformed. Duncan has indicated he will not respect precedent when he disagrees with the outcome of a case. After the Supreme Court decided in favor of same-sex marriage, Duncan said the case “raises a question about the legitimacy of the Court.” He is likely to continue to use his position in the judicial system to further his own ultra conservative views rather than to uphold the law.
THOMAS FARR: Nominated for a district judgeship in the Eastern District of North Carolina, Farr is considered very qualified with almost 40 years of legal experience. This only makes him more concerning, however, as his legal work has not only been incredibly partisan, but has also been racially discriminatory. He is well-connected to the Republican Party, has provided legal representation to the party, and has been a generous donor to Republicans, several of whom are still members of Congress. His legal work has opposed Democratic gerrymandering but has supported Republican, racially discriminatory gerrymandering. He defended NC’s voter identification law, which the DOJ argued disenfranchised minority voters, arguing that voter ID was a “minor inconvenience.” He defended “election reform” measures that were also criticized as disenfranchising minority voters. He helped draft NC’s voter suppression law, and he may have had involvement in a postcard campaign aimed at intimidating black voters. Furthermore, he may have lied to the judiciary committee about his involvement in the postcard campaign during his first hearing.
MATTHEW KACSMARYK: Nominated to a federal judgeship for the Northern District of Texas, Matthew Kacsmaryk is known using “religious liberty” as a justification for discrimination against LGBTQ people and women. He currently works for the First Liberty Institute, a large legal organization exclusively devoted to these kinds of cases. He helped defend a Mississippi law that allows businesses and government workers to refuse service to LGBTQ individuals, and challenged the ACA’s contraception mandate. He has been a vocal opponent of Obama’s executive order prohibiting discriminating against LGBTQ individuals by government contractors, accusing it of “favoring sexual revolution fundamentalism over the sincerely-held religious beliefs of Americans,” and he has challenged Obama’s directive that schools accommodate students’ “gender identity” in gender-specific public facilities. His work and his writings make it clear that he will use his position in the federal courts to further religious justification for discrimination against LGBTQ people and women. Because of the level of Democrat opposition to his nomination, moderate republicans such as Collins will be key deciding votes.
HOWARD NIELSON: Nominated to be federal judge for Utah, Nielson is an ideological extremist and political partisan. He is best known for his defense of “Prop 8,” the California ballot initiative that restricted marriage to heterosexual couples, and his unsuccessful attempt to force the presiding judge to recuse himself because he was gay. As part of the case, he argued that sexual orientation is a choice, and that it can be changed through therapy. Neilson argued to the Supreme Court that Texas should uphold restrictive regulations that would have shut down most abortion clinics, and represented the NRA’s efforts to overturn gun regulations. He also represented congressional Republicans in their opposition to EPA greenhouse gas regulations for industrial polluters. As a member of a DOJ intern screening committee, Nielson violated department rules by eliminating those identified as Democrats, leading the Inspector General to state that those involved should never again have positions in any federal agency. There is also evidence to suggest Nielson was involved in Stephen Bradbury’s “torture memos,” which John McCain described as permission to torture. Nielson has refused to disclose the nature of his involvement.
- Call and email Susan Collins (202-224-2523) and Angus King (202-224-5344) and demand that they OPPOSE the nominations of Duncan, Farr, Kacsmaryk, and Nielson .
- Help generate national pressure around these nominees by sharing this call to action with friends in other states. This is all the more important because major national resistance groups are not currently highlighting the issue.
- Are you a practicing or retired lawyer? If you are concerned about these appointments, there is an opportunity for leadership with an independent group of Maine lawyers. If you are willing to help, please contact Jackie Sartoris, Esq., at firstname.lastname@example.org.