Senate confirms controversial Trump judicial nominee in tight vote

Senate confirms controversial Trump judicial nominee in tight vote
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The Senate confirmed a judicial nominee on Tuesday who was rated as "not qualified" by the American Bar Association (ABA).

Senators voted, 50-48, to confirm Leonard Steven Grasz's nomination to be a circuit judge for the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Grasz was widely expected to be confirmed, though Republicans were forced to hold open a procedural vote on his nomination for roughly an hour and a half Monday night as they waited for a GOP senator to show up and break a potential tie.

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Democrats have slammed Republicans for moving forward with Grasz's nomination despite the ABA rating him "not qualified."

"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?" Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerDemocrats press Schumer on removing Confederate statues from Capitol Democrats' do-or-die moment Biden touts 'progress' during 'candid' meetings on .5T plan MORE (D-N.Y.) asked from the Senate floor.

He added that "more broadly, these attacks, in small but important ways, diminish our democracy."

Grasz was the second of Trump's judicial nominees to receive a "not qualified" rating from the ABA.

"As you know, the Standing Committee confines its evaluation to the qualities of integrity, professional competence, and judicial temperament," the outside group wrote to Sens. Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyGrassley announces reelection bid The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Democrats argue price before policy amid scramble Congress facing shutdown, debt crisis with no plan B MORE (R-Iowa) and Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinFederal watchdog calls on Congress, Energy Dept. to overhaul nuclear waste storage process Senate advances Biden consumer bureau pick after panel logjam Republicans caught in California's recall trap MORE (D-Calif.), the top members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

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

Republicans have stepped up their criticism of the American Bar Association.

Sen. Ben SasseBen SassePresident of newly recognized union for adult performers boosts membership Romney blasts Biden over those left in Afghanistan: 'Bring them home' Progressives breathe sigh of relief after Afghan withdrawal MORE (R-Neb.), during a Judiciary Committee hearing last month, called the ABA a "liberal advocacy organization."

"That’s not a bad thing. You can be a liberal advocacy organization. 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," he said.

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

Democrats don't have the ability to block Trump's court picks without help from Republicans.

In 2013, under then-Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidTo Build Back Better, we need a tax system where everyone pays their fair share Democrats say Biden must get more involved in budget fight Biden looks to climate to sell economic agenda MORE (D-Nev.), Democrats got rid of the 60-vote filibuster for lower court nominees. Republicans followed suit earlier this year on Supreme Court nominations.

And Grassley decided earlier this year to move forward with circuit court nominations over the objections of home state senators. Democratic senators were publicly threatening that they wouldn't return their blue slip on two circuit court vacancies in an effort to quash the nominations.