President Donald Trump nominated U.S. District Court Judge Kurt Engelhardt, Texas Supreme Court Justice Don Willett, former Texas Solicitor General James Ho, and attorney Kyle Duncan to fill vacancies in the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. The New Orleans-based court handles cases from Louisiana, Texas, and Mississippi.
Engelhardt currently serves as the Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for Louisiana's Eastern District. He has served on the Judicial Conference Committee of Federal-State Jurisdiction and as president of the New Orleans Chapter of the Federal Bar Association. Before his nomination to the district court, he practiced commercial litigation and served on the Louisiana Judiciary Commission.
Willett sits on the Texas Supreme Court. Before that he was a Deputy Attorney General in Texas after serving as Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Office of Legal Policy. He was also the Special Assistant to the President and Director of Law & Policy in the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. In the late 90s, he was Director of Research & Special Projects for Governor Bush.
Ho is a current partner of Dallas-based Gibson, Dunn, and Crutcher. He has served as Solicitor General of Texas after working as a law clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarance Thomas and Chief Counsel to U.S. Senator John Cornyn. He also worked in the U.S. Department of Justice as a special assistant to the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights and attorney-advisor in the Office of Legal Counsel.
Duncan is currently a partner at Schaerr Duncan LLP. Prior to becoming a partner, he served two years managing national public-interest litigation as the general counsel of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. Before that, he acted as Solicitor General of the Louisiana Department of Justice after filling the same role in Texas. He's argued two cases in the U.S. Supreme Court, including Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, where he challenged the Affordable Care Act's contraceptive mandate.
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