News Releases

Judicial Nominee Kyle Duncan was lead counsel in infamous Hobby Lobby case where he argued employers could interfere with women’s personal health care choices on ideological grounds

Nominee has worked to oppose same-sex marriage and basic rights for LGBTQ parents

Nominee defended discriminatory efforts of North Carolina’s bathroom bill

Nominee defended voter ID law the Supreme Court struck down for targeting minorities with “almost surgical precision”

Senator Murray: “Any one of the many cases Mr. Duncan has chosen to take should raise alarm… But all of them together paint an unmistakable picture of a nominee who would not uphold women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, or civil rights.”

*** WATCH SENATOR MURRAY’S SPEECH HERE***

(Washington, D.C.)  – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), took to the Senate floor to give a speech outlining her opposition to Kyle Duncan’s nomination to serve on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. In her remarks Senator Murray outlined Mr. Duncan’s past work and positions, and explained the deep concerns she has about his commitment to defending women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, and civil rights.

Key excerpts of Senator Murray’s speech:

“I come to the floor today to oppose Kyle Duncan’s nomination to serve on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. A review of Mr. Duncan’s record—his cases and chosen causes—shows he is a dangerous, ideological nominee who has consistently been on the wrong side of women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, and civil rights.”

“When he served as lead counsel in the infamous Hobby Lobby case, he argued that an employer can interfere with a woman’s personal health care choices. In Texas, he filed a brief in favor of abortion restrictions that would have shut down the vast majority of clinics in that state—restrictions the Supreme Court ultimately ruled an ‘undue burden’ on women’s constitutional right to safe, legal abortion. In my home state of Washington, he filed a brief arguing pharmacies should be allowed to refuse to fill birth control prescriptions for ideological reasons. Fortunately, his views did not prevail.”

“When the Supreme Court was considering whether to strike down bans on same-sex marriage nationwide, he said the harms of doing this would be ‘severe, unavoidable, and irreversible,’ and filed an amicus brief against it. When the court then made its historic decision to recognize same-sex marriage as a fundamental right, Mr. Duncan said it ‘raises questions about the legitimacy of the court.’ He said it might ‘imperil civic peace.’”

“Defending the outrageous ban in North Carolina, he relied on bogus testimony from a self-proclaimed expert who suggested that transgender people are ‘delusional.’ Opposing Gavin in Virginia, Mr. Duncan advanced the offensive and discredited conspiracy theory that schools need to fear athletes pretending to be transgender for competitive advantage.”

“Any one of the many cases Mr. Duncan has chosen to take should raise alarm. Any one of the ideological arguments he has made should cause concern. But all of them together paint an unmistakable picture of a nominee who would not uphold women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, or civil rights. To paraphrase one of his own statements—if confirmed, I believe the damage Mr. Duncan will do to people, by putting his ideology over their rights, will be ‘severe, unavoidable, and irreversible.’”

Video of Sen. Murray’s speech available HERE.

Full text below of Sen. Murray’s speech:

“Thank you M. President.

“I come to the floor today to oppose Kyle Duncan’s nomination to serve on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. A review of Mr. Duncan’s record—his cases and chosen causes—shows he is a dangerous, ideological nominee who has consistently been on the wrong side of women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, and civil rights.

“Let’s start with Mr. Duncan’s record arguing against women’s rights and reproductive freedom.

“When he served as lead counsel in the infamous Hobby Lobby case, he argued that an employer can interfere with a woman’s personal health care choices.

“In Texas, he filed a brief in favor of abortion restrictions that would have shut down the vast majority of clinics in that state—restrictions the Supreme Court ultimately ruled an ‘undue burden’ on women’s constitutional right to safe, legal abortion. 

“In my home state of Washington, he filed a brief arguing pharmacies should be allowed to refuse to fill birth control prescriptions for ideological reasons. Fortunately, his views did not prevail.

“Then there’s Mr. Duncan’s long record of opposing LGBTQ rights.

“When it comes to the rights of same-sex couples, he argued against two loving parents who wanted to change their baby’s birth certificate so they could add him to their insurance plan. He argued for denying a same-sex spouse her parental visiting rights to the children she had raised for eight years. And he defended bans on same-sex marriage in Louisiana and Virginia.

“When the Supreme Court was considering whether to strike down bans on same-sex marriage nationwide, he said the harms of doing this would be ‘severe, unavoidable, and irreversible,’ and filed an amicus brief against it.

“When the court then made its historic decision to recognize same-sex marriage as a fundamental right, Mr. Duncan said it ‘raises questions about the legitimacy of the court.’ He said it might ‘imperil civic peace.’

“When it comes to the rights of transgender people, he fought for the intolerant, harmful bathroom ban in North Carolina, and against Gavin, a young boy in Virginia who simply wanted his school to allow him to use the men’s restroom. And he did it using bigoted arguments that are nothing short of appalling.

“Defending the outrageous ban in North Carolina, he relied on bogus testimony from a self-proclaimed expert who suggested that transgender people are ‘delusional.’

“Opposing Gavin in Virginia, Mr. Duncan advanced the offensive and discredited conspiracy theory that schools need to fear athletes pretending to be transgender for competitive advantage. 

“Outside of the court, outside of his client work, he has repeatedly addressed an organization designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center—an organization that calls marriage equality ‘an oxymoronic institution if ever there was one.’

“And there are still other red flags about his commitment to defending civil rights.

“For example, when the Supreme Court ruled that mandatory life sentences for minors were unconstitutional—he argued the ruling shouldn’t apply retroactively.

“He argued that prisons packed to double their capacity weren’t in violation of the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment. The Supreme Court disagreed, noting the problem caused ‘needless suffering and death.’

“In a case involving an innocent man who spent 14 years on death row, Mr. Duncan argued that the District Attorney’s office wasn’t at fault for failing to train a staff member who withheld evidence.

“And when it comes to one of the fundamental rights in a democracy, the right to vote, the right of the people to choose their government officials…

“Mr. Duncan defended a racially-tailored voter ID law in North Carolina, which the courts ultimately struck down for targeting African Americans with ‘almost surgical precision.’ 

“Any one of the many cases Mr. Duncan has chosen to take should raise alarm. Any one of the ideological arguments he has made should cause concern. But all of them together paint an unmistakable picture of a nominee who would not uphold women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, or civil rights. 

“To paraphrase one of his own statements—if confirmed, I believe the damage Mr. Duncan will do to people, by putting his ideology over their rights, will be ‘severe, unavoidable, and irreversible.’

“I oppose his nomination, and I hope every one of my colleagues will join me.

“Thank you.”