Editorial: Burr, Tillis must set higher standard for court nominees
Friday, Dec. 14, 2018 -- When it comes to administering justice, Sens. Richard Burr and Thom Tillis aren't doing the job for the North Carolinians who put them in office. They need to demand more of judicial nominees than a pleasingly partisan resume and fealty to Donald Trump.Posted — Updated
In the last two years 85 of President Donald Trump’s judicial nominees have been approved by the U.S. Senate: two Supreme Court justices; 30 court of appeals judges and; 51 district court judges.
Sure, it is the prerogative of the president to nominate those to the court who share a common ideological outlook or judicial philosophy. Over the years – and even in these most divided of times – most senators will give broad latitude to a nominee’s politics. Critical is knowledge of the law and behavior in administering justice.
It is extremely rare for a presidential nominee to receive a “not qualified” rating -- just six of Trump’s 159 picks. But Burr and Tillis have voted for three who have come to the Senate for roll calls.
Kobes, who was general counsel to U.S. Sen. Mike Round, R-.S.D., couldn’t provide examples of his legal writing that were “reflective of complex legal analysis, knowledge of the law, or ability to write about complex matters in a clear and cogent manner – qualities that are essential for a circuit court judge,” said Paul T. Moxley, chair of the ABA’s Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary.
What defense is there to support a nominee the ABA deems unqualified? It is not an ideology issue. It is not that these nominees possess some unique qualification that somehow the ABA is overlooking (other than chummy connections with powerful Republicans).
Mere competence is not an excessive qualification for a lifetime appointment to critical job.
When it comes to administering justice, Burr and Tillis aren’t doing the job for the North Carolinians who put them in office. They need to demand more of judicial nominees than a pleasingly partisan resume and fealty to Donald Trump.
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