While there are many issues deserving of our attention, we cannot be distracted and overlook the latest appointments by President Trump to the federal judiciary. The critical independence and fair-mindedness of our nation’s legal system will be seriously undermined if the Senate were to approve Kyle Duncan to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, and Howard C. Nielson to the U.S. District Court for the Utah District.

Both Duncan and Nielson are committed to what conservatives refer to as “reining in the administrative state” – at the cost of sacrificing basic civil rights and civility.

Duncan’s legal decisions and statements would restrict the following: women’s rights to reproductive health care, rights of the LGBTQ communities, voting rights and fairness in the criminal justice system. They are alarming. And Nielson, during the George W. Bush administration, was involved in the Department of Justice hiring scandal. Worse, he was instrumental in the creation of the infamous memo that rationalized the use of torture.

Since the election of 2016, the American legal system has been a steady beacon of hope and reassurance. It has upheld the integrity of the law and respected the Constitution and legal precedent. The judicial system is an integral component of the system of checks and balances established by the Founding Fathers.

Our country cannot afford further erosion of our democratic norms and values. I encourage the media, Sens. Angus King and Susan Collins and all concerned citizens to become knowledgeable about Duncan and Nielson and to remain vigilant about maintaining the integrity of our judicial system. I urge Sens. King and Collins to vote against these nominations should they come to the floor of the Senate.

Beth Schultz

Barry Kohler


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