Opinion: Senators need to do a better job checking Trump’s unqualified judicial nominees

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa and ranking Democrat Dianne Feinstein of California.
(Michael Reynolds / EPA)

To the editor: President Trump has nominated judicial candidates quickly and the Senate has confirmed them rapidly, bypassing the venerated custom of awaiting American Bar Assn. nominee evaluations and ratings. Trump and George W. Bush are the only presidents since Dwight Eisenhower to ignore the ABA recommendations, which help identify candidates who may be weak federal judges. (“Trump is dangerously cutting corners in his quest to remake the Judiciary,” editorial, Nov. 14)

On Nov. 9, the Judiciary Committee approved district judge nominees Brett Talley and Holly Lou Teeter, whom the ABA had rated not qualified. The full Senate should thoroughly debate their qualifications on the floor and reject the nominees if they are unqualified.

Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) appropriately invited an ABA representative to explain the evaluation system at the Nov. 15 hearing on nominees, and she comprehensively explained how the ABA rigorously and fairly evaluates and rates nominees.


Trump and the Senate should more carefully discharge their constitutional responsibilities to nominate and provide advice and consent regarding highly qualified candidates. Trump and senators must remember that nominees, if confirmed as life-tenured judges, will exercise the enormous power of the state.

Carl Tobias, Richmond, Va.

The writer is a law professor at the University of Richmond.


To the editor: Someone tell The Times about the late California Chief Justice Rose Bird.

She was appointed to the court by Gov. Jerry Brown in 1977 without having ever spent a day on any bench as a judge. She was the first appellate judge on any level in California to be voted out of office.

It’s not unprecedented for judges to be appointed without any bench experience. It’s only pointed out when the appointment is made by a Republican.

Appointing relatively young judges isn’t new — Brown has been doing it for years.

Marcus Kourtjian, Northridge


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