Senate Confirms Judge Leonard Steven Grasz to Eighth Circuit, Ignores ABA’s ‘Not Qualified’ Rating

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Senate on Tuesday confirmed President Donald Trump’s choice of Judge Leonard Steven Grasz to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, rejecting the far-left American Bar Association’s (ABA) statement that Grasz was not qualified to be a federal appeals judge.

Grasz has been outspokenly pro-life and played a leading role in 2000 as Nebraska’s chief deputy attorney general in trying to persuade the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold his state’s ban on partial-birth abortions. The Court in Stenberg v. Carhart struck down Nebraska’s law by a 5-4 vote, reinforcing yet again the paramount importance of judicial appointments.

The left-wing ABA—which some Americans mistakenly think is some sort of official body, but is, in reality, a staunchly liberal advocacy organization that most lawyers refuse to be members of—issued a rating that Grasz was not qualified to be a judge. The liberal group’s three ratings are “well qualified,” “qualified,” and “not qualified.”

Conservative opposition to the ABA rose to a new level in 2016 when the ABA recommended that state bars—which as branches of state supreme courts are the actual government licensing authorities for all lawyers—adopt a new legal ethics rule that could be used to punish, including stripping law licenses from, lawyers who speak out or associate on certain conservative issues, ranging from LGBT to Black Lives Matter to illegal aliens, and securing the border.

The backlash was severe. Former Attorney General Edwin Meese—the revered godfather of constitutional conservatism since his eight-year tenure as one of the top aides to President Ronald Reagan—condemned the ABA’s proposed Rule 8.4(g) in the strongest possible terms, writing, “It is not an overstatement to say that this proposed rule borders on fascism.”

The Trump administration has never consulted with the ABA on judicial appointments, and conservatives urge the Senate to follow the president’s lead and completely jettison the ABA from any role in the judicial appointment process.

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted to advance Grasz to the full Senate with a recommendation to confirm. The vote was on a straight 11-9 party-line vote, the same as with most other federal appellate nominees this year, as part of Democrats’ hyperpartisan obstruction of Trump’s nominees.

On Tuesday, the full Senate voted, 50-48, to confirm Grasz. Two Republicans were absent, and every Democrat in the narrowly divided 52-48 Senate voted against the nominee.

“I applaud the confirmation of Steven Grasz, yet another talented nominee from this administration,” said Judicial Crisis Network Chief Counsel Carrie Severino in an exclusive statement to Breitbart News. “His nomination is a textbook case of the liberal bias that has characterized the ABA evaluation process for years.”

“We thank President Trump for such strong, well-qualified judicial nominees and thank [Senate Majority] Leader [Mitch] McConnell for standing up to pro-abortion Democratic obstructionism and getting them confirmed,” echoed Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser. “With a long record of distinguished service to Nebraska that has earned him praise across the political spectrum, Steve Grasz will no doubt be a fine appellate judge who will rule with respect for the constitutional rights of all Americans.”

“Judge Grasz is another home run for the president,” agreed national conservative leader Ken Blackwell, who serves on the boards of conservative organizations of every stripe, from the National Rifle Association and the Club for Growth to the American Civil Rights Union. “President Trump continues to select judicial nominees recommended by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, White House Counsel Don McGahn, and the president’s entire team, who will uphold the U.S. Constitution and Make America Great Again.”

Blackwell praised Sessions this week as a “breath of fresh air” for leading the Department of Justice on a host of issues that are core promises from President Trump’s campaign and top priorities for the conservative movement.

Grasz is President Trump’s tenth successful confirmation to the powerful federal appeals courts and his seventeeth judicial appointment to federal bench at every level.

The Senate on Tuesday also invoked cloture on the nomination of Don Willett to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and is expected to vote on Willett’s final confirmation this week.

Ken Klukowski is senior legal editor for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @kenklukowski.


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