From an editorial Thursday in the Washington Post:
President Donald Trump has made his rapid appointment of federal judges a point of pride. But in the president’s rush to appoint nominees and the Senate’s rush to confirm them, lawmakers risk giving too little scrutiny to potential judges whom the American Bar Association has rated unqualified for the job.
With the exception of the George W. Bush administration, previous presidents have used recommendations by the nation’s largest professional association of lawyers to screen out potentially problematic nominees before seeking Senate approval. Trump, following in Bush’s footsteps, departed from that process by cutting the ABA out of the loop. The ABA instead has provided its views on nominees’ qualifications after candidates have been unveiled.
Many conservatives feel that the ABA, which often takes liberal positions on policy issues, is unfair to Republican nominees. Still, the organization provides valuable professional evaluations of nominees’ competence and temperament. Shutting out the ABA risks embarrassment when the group makes the rare decision to deem a candidate “not qualified” – as it has now done for several of Trump’s nominees.
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At issue are three candidates for federal district judgeships in Oklahoma, Kansas and Alabama, along with Leonard Steven Grasz, nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, has promised to hear testimony from ABA representatives next week before the committee votes on Grasz’s nomination. Republican senators as well as Democrats should take the opportunity to ask serious questions.