Bar association labels second Trump judicial pick ‘not qualified’

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A second of President Trump’s judicial nominees has been deemed “not qualified” by the American Bar Association, Politico reported.

Leonard Steven Grasz, who was nominated by Trump to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, reportedly received a unanimous “not qualified” rating from the association’s standing committee, which had one abstention. 

The committee notified the Senate Judiciary Committee of the rating in a letter obtained by Politico.

“The Standing Committee confines its evaluation to the qualities of integrity, professional competence, and judicial temperament,” the letter reads.


Grasz, a senior counsel at a firm in Omaha, previously served as the chief deputy attorney general for the state of Nebraska.

Charles Goodwin, Trump’s nominee to a district court in Oklahoma, was also rated as “not qualified.”

The committee rates every presidential judicial nominee as either “well-qualified,” “qualified” or “not qualified.

Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, for example, was deemed “well-qualified.”

The Trump administration notified the American Bar Association in March that it was ending its long-standing practice of inviting the independent ABA Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary to review the professional qualifications of prospective nominees to the lower federal courts on a pre-nomination basis.

In the letter, White House Counsel Donald McGahn told the group the administration was no longer going to be giving any professional organization special access to nominees.

“In a country as diverse as ours, we believe it is essential to give all interested parties the same opportunity to evaluate candidates for judicial service,” he wrote. “To that end, the administration welcomes the ABA to evaluate its judicial candidates, just as it welcomes evaluations from any other professional organization or interest group.”

In a statement following the announcement, ABA President Linda Klein said President Eisenhower first invited ABA into the judicial selection process and every administration since, with the exception of the George W. Bush administration, has asked the group to conduct these pre-nomination reviews.

“This helps to ensure the highest quality judiciary through an objective, nonpartisan review of the professional competence, integrity and judicial temperament of those who would have lifetime appointments to our federal courts,” she said.

ABA, however, has vowed through its standing committee to continue to provide objective evaluations to the Senate Judiciary Committee as part of the judicial confirmation process.

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