Judge not: five judicial nominees Trump withdrew – and four pending


The president has placed 89 federal judges but even the Republican-controlled Senate has balked at some candidates

Donald Trump has successfully nominated 89 federal judges – but not every nominee has survived the Senate confirmation process. Here are five judges whose nominations were withdrawn – and four controversial ones still pending.


Brett J Talley
Deputy assistant attorney general, US Department of Justice

Talley, a former staffer on Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign and deputy solicitor general in Alabama, had practiced law for only three years when Trump nominated him to a district court slot in Alabama. The American Bar Association sent the Senate a letter unanimously rating Talley as “not qualified”. But his nomination was not withdrawn until it emerged he had failed to disclose his marriage to Annie Donaldson, then chief of staff to the White House counsel, Donald McGahn, who was in charge of picking judges for Trump to nominate.

Jeff Mateer
First assistant attorney general of Texas

Mateer’s nomination to fill a district court slot in Texas fell apart after excerpts were published of hate-filled speeches from 2015. Mateer condoned “conversion therapy” for LGBT individuals, said transgender children were proof that “Satan’s plan is working” and called workplace diversity training “brainwashing”, adding, in part:

Guess what, I attend a conservative Baptist church. We discriminate, right? On the basis of sexual orientation, we discriminate. Does that mean I can’t be a judge? In some states, I think that’s true, unfortunately.”

Matthew Spencer Petersen
Chairman, federal elections commission

Peterson’s nomination for a district court slot in the District of Columbia failed in the Senate after Petersen admitted he had never tried a case, taken a deposition or argued a motion in court. In a painful scene, he also failed to define basic legal terms.

Thomas Farr

Farr’s nominationfor a district court slot in North Carolina fell foul of the publication of a 1991 memo detailing Farr’s work on a Senate campaign for the rightwing Republican senator Jesse Helms that was accused of “a postcard mailing program designed to threaten and intimidate black voters”. He also defended a discriminatory voter ID law. The NAACP called Farr’s nomination a “slap in the face to communities of color everywhere”.

Ryan Bounds
Assistant US attorney for the district of Oregon

Bounds was headed for the ninth circuit court of appeals when a report surfaced on his discriminatory, undisclosed past writings. One example in the Stanford Review included:

During my years in our Multicultural Garden of Eden, I have often marveled at the odd strategies that some of the more strident racial factions of the student body employ in their attempts to ‘heighten consciousness,’ ‘build tolerance,’ ‘promote diversity,’ and otherwise convince us to partake of that fruit which promises to open our eyes to a PC version of the knowledge of good and evil.” I am mystified because these tactics seem always to contribute more to restricting consciousness, aggravating intolerance, and pigeonholing cultural identities than many a Nazi bookburning.


Neomi Rao
Administrator, office of information and regulatory affairs

Rao has been nominated for the US court of appeals for the DC circuit, to a seat vacated by the supreme court justice Brett Kavanaugh. She has clerked for the supreme court justice Clarence Thomas and worked as a staffer on the Senate judiciary committee, which will weigh her nomination.

The Alliance for Justice rounded up her writings on sexual consent and assault while at Yale, including:

Unless someone made her drinks undetectably strong or forced them down her throat, a woman, like a man, decides when and how much to drink. And if she drinks to the point where she can no longer choose, well, getting to that point was part of her choice.

Brian C Buescher

Buescher has been nominated for district court in Nebraska. The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights has collated Buescher’s views during a past political campaign, including his support for banning abortion.

And on LGBT rights, he said:

I believe marriage is a union between a man and a woman. I do not believe homosexuality should be considered the same way race or ethnicity is considered, with regard to anti-discrimination laws which currently apply to race or ethnicity.

Despite having described abortion services as “just immoral”, Buescher told the Senate that if confirmed he would “enforce and apply” Roe v Wade.

Wendy Vitter

Vitter, a lawyer for the Roman Catholic archdiocese of New Orleans, has been nominated to fill a district court slot in Louisiana. But Planned Parenthood’s vice-president for public policy, Dana Singiser, wrote that Vitter “has used her public stature to promote fake science and misinformation about abortion and birth control. She has spoken at anti-abortion rallies, led anti-abortion panels, and represented anti-abortion organizations.”

At her confirmation hearings, Vitter evaded stating whether Brown v Board of Education, the watershed 1954 supreme court ruling against racial segregation in schools, was “correctly decided”.

Kenneth Lee

Lee, a former George W Bush administration lawyer, has been nominated for the ninth circuit court of appeals.

But Senate judiciary committee Democrats said Lee’s undisclosed student writings exhibited “troubling views on race”, including this from the 1990s:

Liberals rarely fault a black criminal for his crime, lest they appear racist. Instead they blame racism or society … But of course, this ultimately hurts the black community. Majority of the crimes committed today are black-on-black crimes (inter-racial crimes are quite rare), and by having this lax attitude toward black crime …[so] white liberals are allowing the majority of law-abiding African-Americans to be continually victimized.

Read more: www.theguardian.com


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