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White House Wants to Stop ABA Rating/Embarrassing Nominees

By George Khoury, Esq. on November 14, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

At this point, you've likely heard or read about the ABA's issuance of the 'not qualified' rating for a handful of President Trump's federal judicial nominations. Though the ABA's been interviewing, scrutinizing, and rating nominees since the 1950s, it was never really big news because nominations were usually rated before being announced, with the exception of former President G.W. Bush, and now President Trump. This meant that candidates with a "not qualified" rating wouldn't get announced and wouldn't get publicly embarrassed.

Now that the ABA has publicly deemed a handful of Trump's federal judicial nominees as "not qualified," the White House is reportedly considering some new guidance to stop the ABA from embarrassing it further. That guidance allegedly being considered is so simple, it probably won't work: nominees should refrain from answering the ABA's questions. Despite the seemingly solid logic, doing so potentially runs the risk of the nominees' careers, colleagues, peers, and maybe even their social media, being the only sources of embarrassing information.

Unqualified Begets Embarrassment

Interestingly, the report of the White House's response seems to be on the heels of the latest "not qualified" rating handed out to nominee Brett Talley.

Talley, a relatively recent Harvard Law grad (2007) and current deputy assistant attorney general in the Justice Department, has been nominated as a federal trial judge for the middle district of Alabama despite having never tried a case, or even argued a motion in federal court. For federal trial lawyers, this could potentially be a real nightmare.

A "Gratuitously Rude" Dude Nominated

In addition to the serious questions the nomination of Talley raise, another recent nomination also received a "not qualified" rating as well. Leonard Grasz, who was nominated to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, allegedly has trouble with his temperament, as well as trouble remaining non-biased.

Additionally, his peers consider him to be "gratuitously rude." Sadly, one of Grasz's home state senators didn't have much to say beyond the fact that "the state Supreme Court has deemed the nominee in 'good standing' with the state's bar association." Members of the bar know that that is a really low bar.

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