ABA deems another Trump judicial nominee ‘not qualified’ (Politico)

ABA deems another Trump judicial nominee ‘not qualified’

http://politi.co/2z8ycCH

The American Bar Association says it unanimously concluded, with one person abstaining, that President Donald Trump’s pick was not qualified to serve as a federal judge. | Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP Photo

ABA deems another Trump judicial nominee ‘not qualified’

Grasz is the second judicial nominee from Trump to get a ‘not qualified’ label from the bar association.

10/30/2017 02:56 PM EDT

Updated 10/30/2017 09:40 PM EDT

Another one of President Donald Trump’s judicial nominees — this time, to the powerful appellate courts — has been deemed “not qualified” by the American Bar Association.

Leonard Steven Grasz was nominated in August to fill a vacancy on the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals and has his confirmation hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee this week. But in a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee obtained by POLITICO, the American Bar Association says members of its standing committee unanimously concluded, with one person abstaining, that he was not qualified to serve as a federal judge.

Story Continued Below

The letter did not elaborate. But a separate, eight-page statement from the ABA detailed numerous concerns from Grasz’s colleagues in Nebraska about his fitness to serve on the federal bench — including whether Grasz was committed to judicial precedent and if he would be “unable to separate his role as an advocate from that of a judge.”

Some of his colleagues interviewed by the ABA as part of its evaluation process said Grasz’s behavior was “gratuitously rude.” The bar association also noted that a 1999 article Grasz wrote argued that the lower courts should be able to overrule Supreme Court decisions on abortion rights because “abortion jurisprudence is, to a significant extent, a word game.”

“In sum, the evaluators and the Committee found that temperament issues, particularly bias and lack of open-mindedness, were problematic,” Pam Bresnahan, the chair of the ABA’s standing committee that reviews nominees, said in the statement. “The evaluators found that the people interviewed believed that the nominee’s bias and the lens through which he viewed his role as a judge colored his ability to judge fairly.”

Grasz is currently a lawyer in Omaha and served for more than 11 years as Nebraska’s chief deputy attorney general. His home-state senators — Nebraska Republicans Deb Fischer and Ben Sasse — effusively praised him when Grasz was nominated, with Fischer promoting his “sterling credentials and impressive experience” and Sasse deeming him a “by-the-book kind of guy.”

A White House spokeswoman did not immediately return a request for comment on the ABA rating. But both of his home-state senators made it clear they would still stand behind his nomination.

Sasse said in an emailed statement: “It’s sad that the ABA would contort their ratings process to try to tarnish Steve’s professional reputation in order to drive a political agenda.”

“In more than a decade as Chief Deputy Attorney General, whether he was litigating cases before the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington or the Nebraska Supreme Court in Lincoln, Republicans and Democrats alike knew that Steve represented Nebraska with integrity and professionalism,” Sasse said. “He’s a Nebraskan through and through and he knows that under our Constitution judges don’t write laws but rule fairly on the facts of each case.”

And Fischer said in her own statement that Grasz is “highly respected by a bipartisan group of Nebraskans” and that the state Supreme Court has deemed the nominee in “good standing” with the state’s bar association.”

Grasz is the second judicial nominee from Trump to get a “not qualified” label from the bar association; the first was Charles Goodwin, who has been nominated to a district court in Oklahoma.

The Trump White House, in tandem with Senate Republicans, are undertaking an ambitious effort to remake the federal judiciary, particularly in the circuit courts that are the final call for the vast majority of cases that never reach the Supreme Court.

The Republican-controlled Senate has already installed four of Trump’s appellate picks and is on track to confirm four more in the next several days, starting with Amy Coney Barrett, a Notre Dame law professor who has been nominated for the 7th Circuit.

Missing out on the latest scoops? Sign up for POLITICO Playbook and get the latest news, every morning — in your inbox.

Politics

via Politico http://politi.co/2lnbIsw

October 30, 2017 at 12:10PM