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Trump's District Court Pick Deemed 'Unqualified' by ABA

By George Khoury, Esq. on October 05, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

In a rare instance, the American Bar Association has rated Judge Charles Goodwin, President Trump's nominee to the Federal District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma, as "unqualified." This may be puzzling to some as Judge Goodwin has served as a federal magistrate judge in the same court for the past four years.

However, whether or not that rating will hold up or prevent his confirmation cannot be predicted with any certainty. While traditionally the ABA issued their evaluations prior to the announcement of a nomination, President Trump has not bothered with seeking the ABA's evaluation prior to announcing a nomination.

Prejudging Judges

Unfortunately for those of us that love juicy legal gossip, particularly when judges are involved, no details as to why Judge Charles Goodwin was rated as "unqualified" have been released. It is only known that it was not a unanimous vote.

The ABA Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary evaluates the professional qualifications of all federal judicial nominees. The focus of the evaluation is on integrity, professional competence, and judicial temperament. The evaluation results in a rating of "well qualified," "qualified," or "not qualified."

Rarely Unqualified

Perhaps most notable is the fact that no judicial nomination has received the "unqualified" rating for over a decade. The last time it happened was during the last Bush administration. Part of this is due to the fact that President Obama sought the ABA's rating prior to announcing a nomination, and never nominated anyone that received the "unqualified" rating.

However, this isn't a partisan politics issue, despite the accusations of the ABA's liberal bias by conservative commentators. A majority of President Trump's nominations have received the ABA's highest rating of "well qualified."

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