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Donald Trump’s Unqualified Judges

Trump Gavel

For the fourth time since January, one of President Trump’s nominees for a Federal Judgeship has received the extremely rare “not qualified” rating from the American Bar Association, and this time it’s a man who has never tried a case in a Federal or State Court in what amounts to a very short, limited career:

A 36-year-old lawyer who has never tried a case and who was unanimously deemed “not qualified” by the American Bar Association has been approved for a lifetime federal district judgeship by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The lawyer, Brett Talley, is the fourth judicial nominee under President Trump to receive a “not qualified” rating from the bar association and the second to receive the rating unanimously. Since 1989, the association has unanimously rated only two other judicial nominees as not qualified.

The Senate committee’s vote on Thursday to approve Mr. Talley, who graduated from Harvard Law School in 2007 and is a deputy assistant attorney general at the Justice Department, fell along party lines; Republican members outnumber Democrats on the committee 11 to nine. Mr. Talley will now face a full vote in the Senate. If confirmed, he would serve as a trial judge in his home state of Alabama.

Mr. Talley’s nomination is just one of the latest examples of Mr. Trump’s efforts to reshape the nation’s courts, packing them with young, deeply conservative judges.

Mr. Talley’s lack of experience drew searing questions from Democratic members of the committee. Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the minority whip, asked Mr. Talley in a written questionnaire, “Do you think it is advisable to put people with literally no trial experience on the federal district court bench?”

Mr. Talley demurred. “It would be inappropriate for me as a nominee to comment on the advisability of any nomination,” he wrote.

Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, the ranking member of the committee, asked if Mr. Talley had ever argued a motion in Federal District Court, given that he had never tried a case. He had not.

Ms. Feinstein also pointed to Mr. Talley’s prolific social media presence before his nomination. He once referred to Hillary Clinton as “Hillary Rotten Clinton” on his public Twitter account, which is now private.

In 2013, he wrote on his blog that armed revolution was an important defense against tyrannical government. Ms. Feinstein asked in her written questions when Mr. Talley believed it would become appropriate for American citizens to participate in an armed uprising against the government.

He replied that he did not believe any situation in American history — with the “possible exception” of slavery — had called for armed rebellion.

At the committee vote on Thursday, Ms. Feinstein took greatest issue with Mr. Talley’s professed views on gun control. In 2013, about a month after a gunman killed 20 children at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., Mr. Talley on his blog pledged his total support to the National Rifle Association, “financially, politically and intellectually.”

Ms. Feinstein said she had asked Mr. Talley whether, if confirmed, he would commit to recusing himself in cases involving weapons. He refused.

“I find this unacceptable,” she said.

Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa and the chairman of the committee, defended Mr. Talley’s qualifications. “Mr. Talley has a wide breadth of various legal experience that has helped to expose him to different aspects of federal law and the issues that would come before him,” he said in a statement.

Mr. Grassley also cast doubt on the importance of the bar association’s rating. “Senators can decide for themselves if the A.B.A.’s metric of what makes a nominee qualified is proper in these cases,” he said.

Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, in 2012 had praised the bar association’s practice of evaluating judicial nominees as an important way to distinguish between people who merely had political connections and people who belonged on the bench.

Mr. Grassley also noted that other judicial nominees rated “not qualified” had been approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee, at times unanimously.

Other judicial nominees have faced scrutiny for their lack of trial experience. In 2010, Jeff Sessions, then a senator from Alabama, asked Nancy Freudenthal, who had been nominated to Wyoming District Court by President Barack Obama, about her having never tried a case before a jury. Ms. Freudenthal was eventually approved by the Senate, 96 to 1.

Additionally, the comparative rarity of “not qualified” ratings for judicial nominees under previous administrations may have been due, at least in part, to a difference in procedure. Every president since Dwight D. Eisenhower, with the exception of George W. Bush, screened potential nominees with the American Bar Association before publicly announcing them — a tradition the Trump administration has decided to shun.

As noted, this is the fourth Trump judicial nominee to be rated “not qualified” by the ABA in just the first ten months of the Trump Administration. As The Washington Post’s  Philip Bump notes, this is highly unusual for recent Presidents:

As of writing, four of the people nominated by President Trump to serve on a bench have been judged by the standing committee of the American Bar Association to be “not qualified.” Two of those proposed judges were found to be not qualified by a majority of the committee; two were given that designation by a unanimous vote.

To a layperson, this sounds . . . bad. But, in one sense, it may not be as bad as you think.

The ABA has its ratings since the 101st Congress — 1989, the first term of George H.W. Bush — on its website. We pulled out all of those ratings and divvied them up into five categories: those unanimously determined to be well-qualified, qualified or not-qualified and those who received a rating that included a substantial minority opinion between those three groupings. (So the two non-unanimous Trump picks above would land in the “split” category between “qualified” and “not qualified.”)

Trump, of course, has made fewer nominations over the course of his less-than-one-year-old term than did his predecessors over the course of the first two years of theirs. The circles below are scaled to the percentage of nominees in each group.

Trump has made fewer picks — but a higher percentage of them were determined to be not qualified or received a substantial minority of the standing committee who believed that they were not qualified.

This chart summarizes the data the Bump and his colleagues reviewed regarding ABA evaluations of nominees from every President going back to George H.W. Bush:

Judges Chart

As the chart reveals, the vast majority of the nominees that Trump has named to date have been rated “Very Qualified.” At 60%, the number in this category is roughly equal to those of George H.W. Bush and, given the fact, that we’re talking about a small universe of Trump nominees to choose from so far, within the range of those of Clinton, Bush 43, and Obama. Additionally, the percentage of his nominees to date who have received the slightly less prestigious “qualified rating is roughly in the same range as his predecessors, although on the higher end of that scale. Where he differs from those predecessors is in the percentage of nominees who have been rated “not qualified.” As can be seen, he is far ahead of any of his four immediate predecessors in this category, with roughly 20% of his nominees to date receiving the rating. As noted, this 20% is made up of just four nominees so far, but it exposes a potential pattern in Trump judicial appointment that doesn’t bode well for the future. It’s also worth noting that this study appears to examine Presidential judicial nominees at all levels, including appointments to the Supreme Court, the Circuit Courts of Appeal, and the District Court. The four Trump appointees that have been rated “not qualified” have all come at the District Court level. Given that, it would be interesting to see a breakdown of these ABA ratings based on what Court the Judge was appointed to. Given the trend, my bet is that Trump would be even further ahead of his predecessors in “not qualified” appointments than he is overall.

The American Bar Association’s ABA Journal. meanwhile, provides  explains how the nominee review process works and provides a probable reason for why Trump’s nominees are getting a “not qualified” rating at a higher rate:

When the White House participates in the pre-nomination process, the president can choose not to officially nominate that candidate before a “not qualified” rating can go public. President Bill Clinton chose to advance four nominees who received such a rating, three of whom were confirmed by the Senate. Although no official nominee under President Barack Obama had a “not qualified” rating, the New York Times reported in 2011 that the ABA gave a “not qualified” rating to 14 of about 185 potential candidates the Obama administration asked the ABA to evaluate.

In other words, in the past Presidential Administrations have worked hand-in-hand with the ABA regarding nominees and presented their credentials to the review process before announcing them to the public. While they didn’t take the ABA’s advice in every case in many cases this resulted in previous Presidents declining to submit at least some candidates as “not qualified” to the Senate for confirmation. As noted above, the Trump Administration has decided to forego that process, and that is likely one of the reasons why they have appointed a higher percentage of “not qualified” nominees to the Senate so far. To a large degree, of course, this decision was an ideological one on the Trump Administration’s part as it backs up a common belief among conservatives that the ABA’s process is biased against conservative judicial nominees. This claim is largely disproven, of course, by the fact that the vast majority of Trump’s nominees have ultimately been judged to be “very qualified” and that, according to the chart above, the President with the highest percentage of “very qualified” nominees over the past twenty years have been made by a Republican President, George W. Bush. If the Trump Administration were participating in the ABA process in the same way that previous Presidents did, and declining to nominate potential nominees rated “not qualified,” it’s likely that his numbers would be far lower.

To be fair, it’s not necessary that every judicial nominee has trial experience, or experience as a Judge, before being appointed to a Federal Court. When one gets up to the level of a Judge on the Courts of Appeal or a Supreme Court Justice, the most common path to the courtroom was through academia. True, many of these legal academics had spent at least some part of their early careers working in a law firm, but for most of them, their first job out of law school was as a law clerk for a Supreme Court Justice, Judge on one of the Courts of Appeal, or District Court Judge. From there, many of them did go on to be recruited by a top law firm, but they often held positions that didn’t involve going to court much if at all, and in any case, many of them quickly moved into the academic world before their first judicial appointment. For the Courts of Appeal and Supreme Court, this isn’t necessarily a problem because these courts don’t conduct trials, instead, they review the rulings of the District Courts and State Supreme Courts. When it comes to the District Courts, though, we’re talking about a venue where trials occur on a daily basis where Judges are required to be aware of the rules and procedures of the court, the rules of evidence, and how trials ought to be conducted. Additionally, when a case is tried without a jury, which is not at all uncommon in U.S. District Courts, Judges are required to be judges of both the facts and the evidence rather than just running the trial while the responsibility for determining whether the prosecution has proven a Defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, or liability in a civil case, is left to the jury. In this situation, the fact that a nominee has been both rated “not qualified” and apparently never tried a case nor argued a motion before a Judge at any level is both unusual and alarming.

The final note, of course, is the fact that this nominee, along with all of the other judicial nominations that a President submits to the Senate, will sit on the District Court for a very long time. At thirty-six years old he isn’t necessarily unusual for a District Court nominee, but the fact that his appointment is essentially a lifetime appointment means that he could be on the bench for the next forty years or longer, well into the latter half of the 21st Century. This makes the fact that he lacks the experience that would seem to be necessary for a trial judge and that he has been rated “not qualified” by a process that has long been well-respected is concerning, to say the least. Ideally, of course, the Administration would withdraw this nomination or the Senate would reject it, and while it’s possible that one of those two things will happen it’s unlikely that they will. The Trump Administration has not withdrawn the nominations of the other nominees rated “not qualified” and doesn’t seem inclined to do that in the future, and the Republican-controlled Senate doesn’t seem inclined to decline to confirm him or any of the other “not qualified” nominees. Thanks to the fact that the Democrats ended the filibuster for nominees below the Supreme Court level, there’s nothing Democrats can do to stop the nomination from going forward. In all likelihood then, Brett Talley will end up being confirmed. Perhaps he’ll go on to be a fine District Court Judge. We don’t know if he will, though, and based on what we do know, he should not have even been nominated for this position. The fact that he’s the fourth “not qualified” nominee that this President has named in just under ten months in office does not bode well for the future.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. HarvardLaw92 says:

    They are concerned with stacking the district courts with young, spry ideologues who’ll camp out in those seats for the next 40 years.

    It’s not about experience or suitability. It’s about ideology, and frankly it’s nauseating. You can expect this to ramp up as much as possible before next November.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 3

  2. John430 says:

    From the VA Lawyers Weekly, 4-3-14:

    Another Virginia lawyer accepted a nine-month suspension last month after he acknowledged failing to help a client as promised and failing to respond to a bar complaint.
    Douglas E. Mataconis agreed to represent a Prince William County couple who hoped to block construction on a nearby residential development, according to an agreed statement of facts.
    Despite exchanging information on how to proceed for more than a year, Mataconis never completed a promised letter of protest to the county board, nor did he provide any substantive assistance with the couple’s effort, according to the statement.
    Moreover, Mataconis acknowledged he never responded when the VSB sent notice of the clients’ bar complaint.
    After receiving the stipulation of evidence and hearing from both the bar and Mataconis, the Disciplinary Board panel proposed the nine-month suspension, according to assistant bar counsel Prescott L. Prince. Mataconis agreed to the suspension.
    Mataconis is a prolific contributor on the blog “Outside the Beltway,” described as an online journal of politics and foreign affairs analysis.

    What would your ABA rating be, Doug?

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 29

  3. oatka says:

    “Unqualified” is newspeak for “not a part of the Good Ole Boy ruling establishment.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 12

  4. Hal_10000 says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Yeah. The only ideologues we should allow on the courts are the liberal ones.

    Talley is a poor choice, it seems, but the lack of trial experience infest our court system to a massive degree. Most high-level judges come from white shoe law firms, politics or academia and can write long opinions about the theory of the law but have little inkling of how it works in practice. Sotomayor, IIRC, is the only judge on SCOTUS who has real courtroom experience and even that was just a few years.

    This will bite us hard. It already is.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 14

  5. Mister Bluster says:

    @Hal_10000:..The only ideologues we should allow on the courts are the liberal ones

    Who said that?
    (besides you)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1

  6. Mikey says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    It’s not about experience or suitability. It’s about ideology

    This is true of nearly every Trump cabinet appointment. Why would the courts be any different?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  7. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @oatka:

    No, unqualified means unqualified.

    I spent years as an AUSA – in the Southern District of NY no less (think Mafia, complex white collar crime and frauds) – which means I’ve got truckloads of more relevant experience than this clown does. I wouldn’t rate myself qualified to hold a federal judgeship.

    Pro-life. Pro-NRA. Young. Those are the only qualifications that matter to this administration.

    As I said, it’s not about suitability. It’s about ideology. They’re trying to stack the courts while they have the chance, nothing more.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 0

  8. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @John430:

    God, you’re a f’king asshole. Just die already.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 2

  9. Andre Kenji says:

    Doug Mataconis was never nominated to a Federal Court. Even if his qualifications are far better than some of the clowns that Trump is nominating.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  10. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Mikey:

    Understood, but these are lifetime appointments. Cabinet secretaries are, at most, an 8 year disease. Barring some sort of mass dropping dead epidemic (which I wouldn’t cry about), we’re going to be stuck with these bible-beater gun nut nimrods for the next 40 years.

    Bottom line – the country is irrevocably broken. It can’t be fixed at this point. The stupids have won.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  11. @John430:

    That matter is a matter of public record. I admitted to an error and paid the price for it.

    I deeply regret it and I’m not going to go into details here, but since I’m not being appointed to a Federal Judgeship it’s also not relevant.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 33 Thumb down 1

  12. Brian Rogers says:

    Now maybe we can go “judge shopping”.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  13. steve says:

    If they approve this guy, what would stop us from having a law student from being nominated? Heck, why couldn’t you just do a year of law school, then run a very public and partisan (and successful of course) blog, then be nominated because you have met the most important requirements, young and an ideologue? (Also, can’t remember. Is there an age limit of judges?)

    Steve

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  14. CSK says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    It’s a special kind of stupid, given its enshrinement of boorishness and vulgarity as patriotic signifiers.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  15. B. R. Bong says:

    Wasn’t Durbin the guy trying to impose a religious test on nominees?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 4

  16. @Hal_10000:

    Most high-level judges come from white shoe law firms, politics or academia and can write long opinions about the theory of the law but have little inkling of how it works in practice. Sotomayor, IIRC, is the only judge on SCOTUS who has real courtroom experience and even that was just a few years.

    As I said in the post, there is a difference in the responsibilities and jobs of trial court judges and appellate court judges that makes it arguably less important that appellate court judges have courtroom experience. At the same time, I do agree, as I’ve said in previous posts, that there is some value in having an Judges and Justices who have more “real world” experience than just having come from academia or elsewhere on the Federal or state-court bench. However, the lack of courtroom experience concerns me far less when it comes to appeals court judges than it does with judges who will have to handle trial-related matters from their first day in office. Also, the “not qualified” rating from the ABA, and the fact that the Trump Administration doesn’t seem to care about it is what makes this most troublesome.

    Also, you’re somewhat incorrect about the current members of SCOTUS and their level of courtroom experience:

    Roberts — After serving as a law clerk to both Judge Henry Friendly on the Second Circuit and to Chief Justice Rehnquest, Roberts spent several years at a top D.C. law firm where he was often in court on behalf of clients at both the trial and appellate level. After that, he served as a Deputy Solicitor General in the Bush 41 Administration and appeared numerous times before both Courts of Appeal around the nation and the Supreme Court. According to Wikipedia, he represented the United States 39 times before SCOTUS and was on the winning side 28 of those times. He returned to his old firm after the 1992 election and was later appointed to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2001.

    GInsburg — Ruth Bader Ginsburg founded the Women’s Rights Project at the ACLU in 1972 and spent most of the rest of the decade arguing cases at the Federal level (trial and appellate courts) and was part of some of the Supreme Court’s most important cases on the issue of gender equality. She was among the last of Jimmy Carter’s appointments to the Federal Judiciary and served on the D.C. Circuit for more than a decade before Bill Clinton nominated her for SCOTUS

    Thomas — Thomas was an Assistant Attorney General in Missouri under John Danforth, who was Attorney General at the time, and spent much time in court arguing on behalf of the state at the trial and appellate level. When Danforth became a Senator he followed him to D.C., worked on his staff for a short period, and was later appointed to positions in the Reagan Administration at both the Dept. of Education and the EEOC. He was among Bush 41’s first judicial appointments and served on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals before his SCOTUS nomination

    Kennedy — Anthony Kennedy took over his father’s law practice in 1963 and worked there until 1975 when he transitioned into academia. He was appointed to the Ninth Circuit in 1987 by President Reagan.

    Kagan — Elena Kagan served as Solicitor General under President Obama before being appointed to SCOTUS. And represented the United States before SCOTUS on numerous occasions before being appointed to the high court.

    Gorsuch — Worked at a top D.C. law firm for ten years before being appointed to a position in Bush 43’s Dept. of Justice. He was appointed to the 10th Circuit in 2006.

    Alito — Samuel Alito was a Deputy Attorney General under President Reagan, and served as the US Attorney For New Jersey under Bush 41. In that position he handled many court cases including taking first chair in the murder trial of a man who shot an FBI agent in the line of duty as well as a major Mafia case and a terrorism case, among others. He was appointed to the Third Circuit in 1990 on the recommendation of two sitting Federal Judges with whom he had worked at DOJ, one of them being President Trump’s sister, who is a Federal Judge with senior status in New Jersey.

    This is just from a quick review of their WIkipedia entries.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  17. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @CSK:

    I always fall back on Mencken here:

    when a candidate for public office faces the voters he does not face men of sense; he faces a mob of men whose chief distinguishing mark is the fact that they are quite incapable of weighing ideas, or even of comprehending any save the most elemental – men whose whole thinking is done in terms of emotion, and whose dominant emotion is dread of what they cannot understand …

    all the odds are on the man who is, intrinsically, the most devious and mediocre – the man who can most adeptly disperse the notion that his mind is a virtual vacuum. The presidency tends, year by year, to go to such men. As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.

    I have come to believe that the problem here isn’t the political leaders, although they are indeed problematic within the confines of their own duplicity and hunger for power. The problem is the electorate itself. We’re confronted with an electorate that is – to put it bluntly – stupid. Stupid, possessed of a buffet of prejudices, gullible, and, frankly, incapable of weighing the issues and concepts it has to weigh in order to make an informed choice. I’ve come to understand why the founders created only the illusion of democracy, while reserving the true power to govern to themselves.

    They did it because they considered the populace incapable of intelligently participating in government on anything beyond a symbolic level.

    200+ years later, it hasn’t gotten any better. The system itself – America itself – is fundamentally broken.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  18. Gromitt Gunn says:

    @John430: The key parts of that piece of the public record are “acknowledged” and “agreed to.”

    Everyone makes mistakes. The pertinent questions after the fact are “Did you own up to it?” and “What did you learn from it?” and “Did you apply what you learned to avoid repeating those mistakes?”

    There is nothing wrong with accepting accountability for one’s actions and moving forward from them a better person. In fact, I would rather be judged by someone who has first hand experience of being held accountable than someone who has magically sauntered through life having never faced the consequences for their actions.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  19. Gustopher says:

    What’s the adage? “A people hire A people, B people hire C people, and Trump hires the unqualified.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  20. Gustopher says:

    @Gromitt Gunn:

    There is nothing wrong with accepting accountability for one’s actions and moving forward from them a better person. In fact, I would rather be judged by someone who has first hand experience of being held accountable than someone who has magically sauntered through life having never faced the consequences for their actions.

    I learned more from failing out of college than I ever learned in college.

    And, through the years, every good boss I have worked for, and most of the best engineers I worked with, had been glorious fvckups at some point in their life, and then turned it around. Even in technology, those soft skills of knowing your weaknesses, knowing how to deal with failure, understanding other people’s ability to momentarily screw up, and showing empathy — those soft skills make all the difference.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  21. Gustopher says:

    @HarvardLaw92: are the judges rated unqualified more likely to have their rulings overturned on appeal?

    This might be a blessing in disguise. Do we want a qualified ideologue who can get the job done, or an unqualified oaf of an ideologue who is just a nuisance?

    (And people say that I’m not an optimist…)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  22. @Gustopher:

    are the judges rated unqualified more likely to have their rulings overturned on appeal?

    That’s an interesting question, I’m not sure anyone has done such a study. It would certainly involve sifting through a lot of data.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  23. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    The problem is the electorate itself.

    For years–to the consternation and embarrassment of my administrators–I have held that the main problem in our education system is that the schools are inevitably a reflection of the communities that they serve. As you have demonstrated in this thread, the same is true of government. Thanks for the Mencken quote. My favorite is the one about no one having ever failed to make a decent living underestimating the intelligence of the American public.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  24. Hal_10000 says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    I stand corrected, although I would not that this still a lot of experience that is either political or academic. However, regardless, I would still argue that our judiciary has a serious problem with deferring to prosecutors, deferring to cops and being reluctant to defend even the most basic civil liberties. There was the Kaley decision where they clung to some outdated model of how grand juries work. There was the drug-dog decision where Scalia wondered why on Earth cops would want to use drug-sniffing dogs if they had so many false positives. There’s the established deference to cops in shooting cases where juries are instructed to acquit if there is any reason the cop might have though himself in danger. These decisions betray a judiciary that is well-studied on the theory of the law and poorly studied on what the law actually looks like when it impacts people’s lives. This is something Judge Kozinski has been writing about for a number of years.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  25. John430 says:

    @HarvardLaw92: Whassamatter? Life as a perfesser in the Harvard School of Law and Culinary Arts of the Ozarks getting to be too much of a strain?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 12

  26. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @John430:

    No, I just find bible beating pro-lifers such as yourself odious, never more than when your mask of supposed moral superiority slips like it did above.

    I do give you credit, however, for exposing the blatant hypocrisy that is Christianity. That, at least, offered something of value to the rest of us.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1

  27. de stijl says:

    @John430:

    Whassamatter? …

    Was that supposed to be a dis?

    In the future, when you’re trying to dis someone, you may want to avoid basically barfing a meaningless snarky word salad.

    You’re banking on attitude to carry the day. Attitude is a big part of it, but still have to deliver on the dis itself. The dis has to have teeth or it misses your target and reflects poorly on you.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  28. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @Hal_10000: “These decisions betray a judiciary that is well-studied on the theory of the law and poorly studied on suited to giving a damn about what the law actually looks like when it impacts people’s lives.”

    FTFY.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  29. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @de stijl: He’d have to be smarter than the comment program he’s using to understand what you just said.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  30. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @John430: Anyone who has never had at least one conspicuous failure in life from which they’ve learned the appropriate lessons probably hasn’t accomplished much of anything.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  31. al-Ameda says:

    @John430:

    After receiving the stipulation of evidence and hearing from both the bar and Mataconis, the Disciplinary Board panel proposed the nine-month suspension, according to assistant bar counsel Prescott L. Prince. Mataconis agreed to the suspension.
    Mataconis is a prolific contributor on the blog “Outside the Beltway,” described as an online journal of politics and foreign affairs analysis.

    What would your ABA rating be, Doug?

    What would your Ad Hominem rating be, John?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  32. Jen says:

    So, this Talley guy is not only totally unqualified to hold a lifetime appointment–he also has the same trouble filling out disclosure forms as a lot of other Trump appointees. He managed to *fail to disclose* that his WIFE works in the White House Counsel’s office:

    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/13/us/politics/trump-judge-brett-talley-nomination.html

    What IS it with this administration and the inability to accurately fill out forms?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  33. Hal_10000 says:

    @Jen:

    Well, now we have our explanation. Never ascribe to Trump strategy what can be explained by Trump stupidity. She’s married to a friend of his; that was the end of the vetting process.

    Talley should withdraw his nomination immediately.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  34. Forces says:

    Contrary to what you imply, not submitting nominees to the ABA for vetting prior to announcing them is nothing new. From today’s Wall Street Journal:

    In 2001, George W. Bush halted the practice of giving the ABA first crack at vetting potential nominees

    Regarding the nomination of Leonard Steven Grasz the Journal wonders

    • Why did the ABA ask where Mr. Grasz’s children went to school? Does the ABA believe their Lutheran education affects his fitness as a judge?

    • Is it ever appropriate for an ABA interviewer to refer to “you people,” as Mr. Grasz’s did? When Mr. Grasz asked for clarification, the interviewer said he meant “Republicans and conservatives.” Has the ABA ever referred to “you people” when interviewing a Democratic nominee?

    • The ABA has taken positions on many of the most contentious issues before the courts these days, from abortion to guns to same-sex marriage. How can a Republican judicial nominee have confidence these ABA positions will not adversely affect the ABA’s rating?

    The ABA is a partisan organization that Republicans should either ignore ot (better still) actively discredit.

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  35. Hal_10000 says:

    @Forces:

    The ABA is a partisan organization that Republicans should either ignore ot (better still) actively discredit.

    And yet the ABA has had no problem giving qualified recommendations to some very conservative justices. Odd, that.

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  36. John430 says:

    Noting this opinion piece in the WSJ. Excerpted:

    The object of the ABA’s attention is Leonard Steven Grasz, a former Nebraska chief deputy attorney general who’s been nominated for the a seat on the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The ABA has slapped Mr. Grasz with a “not qualified” rating, saying he’s too biased and too rude to be a judge. Given that much of this rating is based on accusations that are not detailed and from accusers who remain anonymous, it reveals more about the organization that issued it than it does about Mr. Grasz.

    Democrats and Republicans long ago diverged on the ABA’s role in the nominations process. In 2001, George W. Bush halted the practice of giving the ABA first crack at vetting potential nominees; in 2009 Barack Obama revived it; and this year President Trump halted it again.

    The ABA’s statement makes clear his “not qualified” rating is based on two broad worries: his “passionately held social agenda” and complaints that he’s been “gratuitously rude.”

    By “passionately held social agenda,” the ABA means abortion; in his prior life Mr. Grasz defended—as a state deputy attorney general is obliged to do—a Nebraska ban on partial-birth abortion. What it means by “rude” no one knows, because the ABA has thrown this out there while providing almost no specifics.

    So Wednesday’s hearings offer Republicans an excellent opening to press ABA officials on how they came to their “not qualified” rating. Here are a few suggestions:

    • Why did the ABA ask where Mr. Grasz’s children went to school? Does the ABA believe their Lutheran education affects his fitness as a judge?

    • Is it ever appropriate for an ABA interviewer to refer to “you people,” as Mr. Grasz’s did? When Mr. Grasz asked for clarification, the interviewer said he meant “Republicans and conservatives.” Has the ABA ever referred to “you people” when interviewing a Democratic nominee?

    • The ABA has taken positions on many of the most contentious issues before the courts these days, from abortion to guns to same-sex marriage. How can a Republican judicial nominee have confidence these ABA positions will not adversely affect the ABA’s rating?

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  37. John430 says:

    @HarvardLaw92: I don’t claim moral superiority. I just point out that the “holier than thou” leftists are not holier by any stretch of the imagination, and they cannot claim the high ground. Additionally, your “them” vs us” mentality is the real hypocrisy.Somebody used the term “ad hominem” in a post above. I’ll say that your “ad hominem” attacks against Judeo-Christian moral codes reveal you as a true bigot. Let me say that again, sir or madam…You are a BIGOT.

    @de stijl: You remind me of a puppy chasing it’s own tail. If you prefer to while away your time exploring the difference between a “Dis”and a “Snark” go right ahead.

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  38. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @John430:

    I had a side bet going that your next move would be to play the victim card, which – SHOCKER 😀 – you did …

    Thanks for the $100 … :-)

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  39. John430 says:

    @HarvardLaw92: Play the victim card? That is a charge of last resort made by phonies like you who have run out of reasoned argument. I have no doubt that if I brought in comments from a black Christian minister, you’d call him an Uncle Tom/Christian huckster. I repeat- you are the bigot, and using the example above, likely a racist bigot. You worship political correctness, it seems.

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  40. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @John430:

    :roll:

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