All eyes were predictably on Alabama’s special Senate election on Tuesday, but while Democrat Doug Jones was pulling off a narrow victory over embattled Republican Roy Moore, President Trump picked up an important judicial nominee via a narrow Senate confirmation.
By a count of 50-48, the Senate voted to confirm the nomination of Leonard Steven Grasz as circuit judge for the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, despite the fact that the American Bar Association (ABA) rated the judge as “not qualified” for the position.
Of course, if the ABA were a non-partisan, unbiased arbiter of mere legal qualifications, one might be concerned. However, since we’re dealing with what Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse has called a “liberal advocacy organization,” their ratings of Trump’s nominees mean a lot less.
“That’s not a bad thing. You can be a liberal advocacy organization,” Sasse said last month during a Judiciary Committee hearing, according to The Hill. “You have First Amendment rights and you should use them. What’s not OK is being a liberal advocacy organization and be masquerading as a neutral evaluator of these judicial candidates.”
Democrats, predictably, criticized the move. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) asked, “A panel of nonpartisan, legal experts unanimously concluded that this man is not fit to be a judge. What else do my colleagues need to know?” adding, “more broadly, these attacks, in small but important ways, diminish our democracy.”
Grasz, a former Nebraska chief deputy attorney general, is currently a senior counsel at an Omaha firm.
Seeing right through the ABA’s liberal shenanigans, the Trump administration formally put the group on notice in March that it will no longer be invited to review the president’s judicial nominees.
And even with the help of Doug Jones, Democrats will still lack the ability to block Trump’s picks unless Republicans defect. With the end of the 60-vote filibuster imposed by Harry Reid in 2013 along with Senator Grassley’s 2017 decision to ignore the lack of “blue slips” from home state senators, the Democrats have few options to block Trump’s court picks other than delay tactics.
The conservative eleven-member 8th Circuit, based out of Thomas F. Eagleton United States Courthouse in St. Louis, Missouri, is composed of only one Democratic nominee.
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