From the Post Editorial Board:
“PRESIDENT TRUMP has confirmed 12 nominees to judgeships on the federal courts of appeals — more than any other modern president achieved during his first year. Yet while Republicans may pride themselves on this record, a string of recent embarrassments shows that the Senate is rushing too quickly through Mr. Trump’s choices.
The White House announced last week that it would not be moving forward with two nominees for district court posts, Brett Talley of Alabama and Jeff Mateer of Texas. Mr. Talley and Mr. Mateer faced resistance from Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) and Sen. John Neely Kennedy (R-La.) — though both senators voted in support of Mr. Talley’s nomination before the committee.
The case of Mr. Mateer, who referred to transgender children as “Satan’s plan,” is the less concerning of the two. Before Mr. Mateer went far in the confirmation process, questions arose over whether he had failed to disclose his hateful comments. By the time Mr. Trump withdrew his support, Mr. Mateer had yet to even file the paperwork required for his committee hearing.
Mr. Talley, on the other hand, is a case study of how the confirmation process has broken down. Unanimously rated “not qualified” to be a judge by the American Bar Association, he has never tried a case or filed a motion in federal court. His hobbies have included ghost-hunting and right-wing political blogging. Yet he won the support of every Republican on the Judiciary Committee. Mr. Grassley, Mr. Kennedy and even Mr. Talley’s home-state Sen. Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.) balked only when it surfaced that the nominee had failed to disclose both his wife’s work with White House Counsel Don McGahn and a number of his contentious Internet comments — including one defending “the first KKK.”
We are glad that these senators raised concerns about Mr. Talley’s nomination and that the White House heeded their warnings. But it should not have taken these revelations about Mr. Talley’s lack of candor to make clear his lack of qualification for a lifetime appointment to the bench. Going forward, the committee must take Mr. Talley’s nomination as a reminder of its responsibility to vet nominees thoroughly and carefully instead of rubber-stamping the president’s selections.
Republicans may already have learned their lesson, as we saw when Mr. Kennedy aggressively quizzed Matthew Spencer Petersen on his courtroom knowledge during Mr. Petersen’s confirmation hearing for a position on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The nominee proved unable to answer even basic legal questions. Mr. Petersen, currently chair of the Federal Election Commission, may well be an excellent election lawyer. But he is clearly unqualified to be a federal judge.
We hope that Mr. Kennedy continues to hold nominees to the high professional standard appropriate for a lifetime appointment — and that his Republican colleagues, including Mr. Grassley, share that commitment. The committee can start by calling back Thomas Farr, the nominee for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, to explain discrepancies regarding his knowledge of a voter-suppression effort by then-Sen. Jesse Helms’s 1990 campaign.“
Here’s how the latest chapter in the saga eventually played out:
Matthew Petersen, a nominee to the federal judiciary, has withdrawn from consideration days after a video clip showed him unable to answer basic questions about legal procedure, the White House confirmed Monday.
Petersen, nominated for a seat on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, is the third Trump judicial pick to withdraw in the past week amid criticism from Democrats and others about their qualifications.
White House spokesman Raj Shah confirmed that Trump had accepted Petersen’s withdrawal but declined to comment further.
The video of Petersen that went viral Thursday captured five minutes of pointed questioning by Sen. John Neely Kennedy (R-La.) at Petersen’s confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee the day before.
It was posted on Twitter by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), who wrote that it showed Kennedy asking Petersen “basic questions of law & he can’t answer a single one.”
As of Friday, the White House was standing by Petersen, with a spokesman saying that he was qualified and that “the President’s opponents” were “trying to distract from the record-setting success the President has had on judicial nominations.”
Petersen, a graduate of the University of Virginia Law School, has been a member of the Federal Election Commission since 2008 but has no trial experience. His tenure on the FEC overlapped with that of now-White House counsel Don McGahn for about five years.
“While I am honored to have been nominated for this position, it has become clear to me over the past few days that my nomination has become a distraction — and that is not fair to you or your Administration,” Petersen wrote to Trump in a letter dated Saturday. “I had hoped my nearly two decades of public service might carry more weight than my two worst minutes on television. However, I am no stranger to political realities, and I do not wish to be a continued distraction from the important work of your administration and the Senate.”
Until last week, Trump’s record of getting judicial nominees confirmed by the Senate stood out as a bright spot for a president who has struggled for big wins on Capitol Hill. The Senate has confirmed Supreme Court Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, 12 circuit court judges and six district court judges.
Early last week, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) told the White House to “reconsider” the nominations of two nominees, Jeff Mateer and Brett Talley, both of whom were reported to have endorsed positions or groups that embrace discrimination. A day later, both nominations were pulled.
Democratic senators had also questioned the qualifications of Talley, Trump’s nominee for a U.S. district court seat in Alabama, and Mateer, who was nominated to serve on the bench in the Eastern District of Texas.
During Wednesday’s confirmation hearing, Kennedy started by asking Petersen and four other nominees who appeared with him, “Have any of you not tried a case to verdict in a courtroom?”
Read the complete article at the link.
Who’s the real loser here? Well, it goes without saying that as with virtually every piece of the “Trump Agenda” the American people are the real losers. Handing out lifetime judicial appointments to unqualified political hacks — that’s exactly what happens in the Third World Dictatorships and Banana Republics that I used to hear about on a regular basis on my asylum docket. Sad to think that we are becoming one of “them.”
Beyond that, Chairman “Chuckles the Clown” Grassley is the other big loser. Sure, this batch was cut off. But, that Trump would dare send folks like this up for confirmation means that he firmly believes that “Chuckles” and his GOP stooges would affirm a piece of rotten horse meat if that’s what Trump sent them. In other words, he believes that “Chuckles” is weak and intimidated and ultimately will do Trump’s bidding.
And, Trump might be right about that. Witness that very few GOP legislators consistently are willing to stand up to Trump when it counts. Even those who are somewhat critical, eventually fold their tents and “go along to get along” as demonstrated by the tax bill and the spineless performances of alleged “heros” like Senator Susan Collins, Senator Lisa Murkowski, and Senator Marco Rubio. Even Jeff Flake, as he departs the scene, appears willing to screw America to make the rich richer and the poor poorer.
Although I wasn’t the first, I certainly recognized Trump’s “Beclowning” of America early on. Never heard of a country governed by a Clown (even a dangerous and dishonest one) being a major positive force in world history. Wake up before it’s too late!
JUST SAY NO to more Clowns in Government! And, that absolutely “starts at the top!” 🤡