Thus far, in his 10 months in office, Trump has nominated 60 mostly white males for positions in the judiciary. His most recent choice, however, is raising some eyebrows, including my own. The man is Brett Talley, and while I’m sure there are some people out there who are less qualified, it would be hard to find one in judicial circles, for Mr. Talley has never tried a case before.
Talley earned his JD from Harvard Law School in 2007, but spent the next several years working on Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, and as a speechwriter for Ohio’s Senator Rob Portman. He has practiced law, in fact, for just under three years, and again, has never tried a case. So what, you ask, qualifies him for the position of United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Alabama? Read on …
- He has pledged support for the National Rifle Association, saying “The NRA stands for all of us now, and I pray that in the coming battle for our rights, they will be victorious.”
- He panders to Trump: “Those who argue that another Clinton White House is somehow preferable to four years of Trump are blind to the consequences, for the nation, for the party and for the conservative movement.”
- He was unanimously deemed “not qualified” by the American Bar Association.
- He once referred to Hillary Clinton as “Hillary Rotten Clinton” on his public Twitter account. He also once posted that she should be in jail.
- In 2013, he wrote on his blog that armed revolution was an important defense against tyrannical government.
- He is young (36), white, and male, as have been almost all of Trumps judicial nominations.
- He will serve in Alabama, a state where Roy Moore served twice and was thrown off the bench both times.
- He is an author of three published horror novels and two “true ghost” stories. “I consider it a gift. In horror novels being the antichrist is, like, the highest honor possible.”
Last Thursday, November 9th, Talley was endorsed in a 11-9 vote by the Senate Judiciary Committee, and the vote will next go to the full Senate for vote. It will require three republican senators to vote ‘nay’ in order to stop this nomination. But wait … if you weren’t already convinced that he is highly unqualified, there’s more …
As part of the confirmation process, Talley was required to fill out a questionnaire in which he was specifically asked to identify family members and others who are “likely to present potential conflicts of interest.” He rather failed to mention one very important connection: his wife, Ann Donaldson, is in fact, the chief of staff to the White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II. He also conveniently forgot to mention his wife when he described his frequent contact with White House lawyers.
Why does his wife and her position matter? A couple of reasons …
- District judges often provide the first ruling when laws are called into question, decisions that can put them at odds with the White House and its lawyers. Remember the judges in Hawaii and Maryland who temporarily blocked Trump’s travel ban?
- Donaldson has emerged in recent weeks as a witness in Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether Trump obstructed justice. She was interviewed by investigators recently about her detailed notes about conversations with Mr. McGahn on topics including the firing of the former F.B.I. director James B. Comey.
In my opinion, which coupled with about $5 will buy you a Starbucks coffee, he is highly unqualified, if for no other reason than that his failure to disclose his wife’s position displays a lack of honesty. Pair that, if you will, with the fact that he has never tried a case and only practiced law for under three years, and this man is not federal judge material. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders disagrees:
“Mr. Talley served as deputy solicitor general for the state of Alabama, currently serves in the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Policy and was recommended by Alabama’s U.S. senators, He is more than qualified to serve in the federal judiciary.”
I’ve driven a car, too, but it doesn’t mean I know how to build one.
Trump’s goal is to stack the courts with young conservative judges. Since these are lifetime appointments, this tactic, if successful as it has been thus far, could well result in the next 40 or so years of conservative decisions handed down. Think what this could do to civil rights, LGBT rights, the rights of non-Christians …
The Senate will surely see their way to refuse to confirm Talley … right? They should, but then I used to believe in the Tooth Fairy, too.