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"The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund is simply the best civil rights law firm in American history." -- President Obama

LDF's Kyle Barry: Trump Threatens Judicial Independence and the Rule of Law with “Not Qualified” Nominees

Thursday, November 9, 2017

All year, we’ve explained how President Trump is reshaping the federal courts to enable his own discriminatory policy agenda. Frustrated by repeated losses in court on issues ranging from immigration to abortion to voting rights, Trump has selected a bevy of judicial nominees precisely for their long and in some cases incendiary records opposing civil rights. Their records show how the Trump administration views the judiciary not as an independent protector of the rule of law, but as something to manipulate for its own political and unlawful ends.

Further proof has come recently from the nonpartisan American Bar Association, which reviews the merits of judicial nominees without regard to ideology or political party. Remarkably, the ABA has already found that four of Trump’s nominees are “not qualified” for reasons of bias, inexperience, and lack of judicial temperament. Not one of President Obama’s judicial nominees received a “not qualified” rating, in part because the Obama administration waited for the ABA to complete its evaluation before making a nomination. But in his zeal to transform the courts with extreme rightwing judges, Trump has excluded the ABA from the process — making nominations first and leaving the ABA to ask questions later.

For over 50 years, the ABA’s 15-person screening committee has assessed judicial nominees’ competence, integrity, and temperament, and provided ratings of Well Qualified, Qualified, and Not Qualified. Given the limited scope of the ABA’s review — it does not address, for example, nominees’ views on critical legal issues or judicial philosophy — a qualified rating should be the bare minimum for Senate confirmation. It ensures that judgeships are reserved for competent attorneys and not handed out as patronage posts to political allies. As Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said in 2012, ABA ratings are “invaluable because in these politically charged times in which we live, [they]’re a filter, a sort of a wall between people who are politically connected and somebody who should be on the bench.”

Read the full medium post here

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