Court Battles

American Bar Association: Trump court pick now ‘Well Qualified’

The American Bar Association (ABA) rated one of President Trump’s court nominees as “Well Qualified” on Tuesday after it had declared Judge Justin Walker “Not Qualified” last year for his current position on a Kentucky district court.

Walker is considered “Well Qualified” to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, William C. Hubbard, who chairs the ABA’s Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary, said in a letter to Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). The senators head the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is set to hold Walker’s confirmation hearing on Wednesday. 

Hubbard said last year’s determination that Walker was “Not Qualified” for the U.S. District Court in Western Kentucky came from his “then-narrower litigation experience.” He added that since then, Walker “has served as a federal trial judge.” 

The ABA official said “ordinarily” a nominee to a federal bench is recommended to have “at least 12 years’ experience in the practice of law.” But he said “a majority of the Standing Committee concluded that Judge Walker’s varied accomplishments as a law clerk, law professor, and now as a district judge offset concerns about his years of practicing law.”

Walker, an ally of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), and his supporters asserted the ABA has a liberal bias after last year’s ruling. 

McConnell has prioritized confirming judges during the Trump administration. As of May 4, Trump has appointed 193 judges, trailing only former President Carter, who appointed 208, according to the Brookings Institution

A federal judge late last week called for an investigation to find out whether McConnell pressured a Washington, D.C., federal judge to retire so the senator could nominate Walker to fill the vacancy.

Demand Justice, a progressive judicial watchdog group, on Tuesday requested a postponement of the Judicial Committee’s hearing on Walker’s nomination.

Tags American Bar Association Court nominees Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit Dianne Feinstein Donald Trump Justin Walker Kentucky Lindsey Graham Mitch McConnell Senate Judiciary Committee Trump court picks

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