Two Trump Judicial Nominees Withdraw Over Inflammatory Rhetoric

Kevin Daley | Supreme Court Reporter

Two of President Donald Trump’s judicial nominees will withdraw from consideration given continued concerns over their experience and temperament.

The nominees, Brett Talley and Jeff Mateer, were tapped for U.S. district courts in Alabama and Texas. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley told reporters Wednesday that he asked the White House to withdraw their nominations given their history of inflammatory rhetoric.

The Talley nomination in particular was a protracted parade of horribles. Talley’s resume elicited criticism almost immediately after his name was submitted. He has practiced law for just three years and has never tried a case. The dearth of experience prompted a unanimous “unqualified” rating from the American Bar Association (ABA).

A prolific writer, Talley has blogged on political topics for years, flashing a deeply partisan streak.

“Today I pledge my support to the NRA; financially, politically, and intellectually,” he wrote in a 2013 post. “I ask you to do the same. Join the NRA. They stand for all of us now, and I pray that in the coming battle for our rights, they will be victorious.”

He also failed to disclose a conflict of interest on a questionnaire submitted to the Judiciary Committee. Though the dossier asks nominees to name family members who hold political posts, Talley did not disclose that his wife is a lawyer in the White House Counsel’s office.

Senators representing states where judicial vacancies occur are generally given significant deference by the White House in selecting nominees. Alabama GOP Sen. Richard Shelby told CNN that he asked Talley to withdraw in early September.

“While the senator believes that Brett Talley is a great young attorney, he spoke with him last week and asked for his letter of withdrawal in hopes that Mr. Talley can gain more experience,” a Shelby spokesman he said.

NPR first reported that Talley would withdraw his nomination.

Mateer’s nomination has languished since September, when CNN flagged a 2015 speech he delivered before an evangelical congregation called “The Church and Homosexuality.” His remarks concerned strategic litigation efforts orchestrated by pro-LGBT groups, which Mateer claims will inhibit religious believers from practicing their faith. During the course of his remarks, Mateer claimed the country has given itself over to debauchery, and that transgender children are evidence of a Satanic plot.

“Now, I submit to you, [as] a parent of three children who are now young adults, a first grader really knows what their sexual identity [is]?” he said. “I mean it just really shows you how Satan’s plan is working and the destruction that’s going on.”

The withdrawals are the first real failures of Trump’s judicial confirmation effort, which is otherwise moving at an unprecedented clip. Late Wednesday the Senate confirmed Texas Supreme Court Justice Don Willett to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the twelfth confirmation to an appeals court this year. The pace is a record in the modern era.

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