By now you’ve probably seen the statement that the North Carolina GOP put out last night, after the NCAA announced it was pulling games from Greensboro:
“I wish the NCAA was this concerned about the women who were raped at Baylor” is a reference to Baylor University, which, under the leadership of former federal judge and U.S. solicitor general Kenneth Starr, engaged in a systemic denial of rape on its campus and repeatedly showed that it didn’t much care about its female students.
But despite that attack, it turns out that Starr has connections to the apparatus of conservative activism that’s defending HB 2—specifically, Senate leader Phil Berger’s lawyer in the General Assembly’s case against the federal government, Kyle Duncan.
Duncan, a former solicitor general for Louisiana, is an attorney at Schaerr Duncan, a DC-based firm that specializes in defending Religious Right ideology in court. Duncan famously argued the 2014 Hobby Lobby case, in which the Supreme Court found that corporations could hold religious beliefs and therefore not have to pay for contraceptives for their female employees.
Starr, Duncan, and Gene Schaerr all have ties to the Federalist Society, an influential national conservative organization that numbers in the tens of thousands. The Federalist Society wielded an incredible amount of power over both George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush’s federal judicial nominations. Bush 41 nominated nine Federalist Society members to the judiciary, including Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court, and his son nominated twenty-five, including both John Roberts and Samuel Alito.
Schaerr’s relationship is a bit more personal: Schaerr’s bio says he clerked for Starr in the 1980s, when Starr was on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. (An email to Schaerr was not immediately returned.)
Of course, the NCAA’s failure to punish Baylor (so far) for the hell it allegedly put rape victims through has no correlation to actions it can take against HB 2. The NCAA can walk and chew gum at the same time—and often does rather terribly.
Starr, however, is part of the same social conservative network that’s defending HB 2 and laws like it all around the country. For the NCGOP, Phil Berger, the NC Values Coalition, and others wreaking havoc on civil rights for LGBTQ people in this state, Baylor’s former president is one of their own.
UPDATE: Lt. Gov. Dan Forest just released a statement of his own mentioning Baylor. This is becoming a theme.