Earlier this year, Donald Trump nominated Brett Talley for a lifetime position on the federal bench, despite the fact that he's a 36-year-old lawyer who’s never tried a case or argued a motion in court. He's also expressed “a fervent interest in investigating and writing about paranormal activities.”
Around the same time, the president also nominated Jeff Mateer for the federal judiciary, despite his bizarre contempt for LGBT Americans, including his belief that transgender children are evidence of “Satan’s plan.”
As of yesterday, as the Washington Post reported, neither of these judicial nominees will proceed.
The Senate Judiciary Committee’s top Republican said Wednesday that two of President Trump’s nominees for open seats on the federal bench will not be confirmed, just a day after urging the White House to “reconsider” them.Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) said that based on his discussions with the White House, the nominations of Jeff Mateer and Brett Talley would not move forward through the confirmation process.
Throughout Trump's first year as president, progressives and their allies have looked for ways to derail his most outlandish judicial nominees, which makes yesterday's news so extraordinary: we discovered that there are some limits. Republicans are prepared to rubber stamp practically anyone the White House sends to Capitol Hill for confirmation, but not literally anyone.
And while that's reassuring for those who take the integrity of the federal courts seriously, I think it's a mistake to suggest the controversy surrounding the Talley and Mateer nominations should simply disappear.
Indeed, there are some lingering questions that deserve some answers:
1. Why in the world did Trump World nominate these guys in the first place?
2. If Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley now realizes that Talley doesn't belong on the federal bench, why did Grassley advance him through committee? Does this suggest Grassley failed to scrutinize the nominee thoroughly before sending him to the floor for confirmation?
3. On a related note, why exactly did every Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee vote in support of Talley's nomination?
4. Would Talley have been confirmed anyway were it not for the related controversy surrounding his failures to disclose his ridiculous published works and his marriage to the White House Counsel Don McGahn's chief of staff?
5. Does the White House have any vetting process for judicial nominees at all?