GOP Senate to confirm another Trump judge who's never tried a case

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Kathryn Kimball Mizelle is the 10th of Trump's judicial nominees to be rated 'not qualified' by the American Bar Association.

On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to advance the nomination of Kathryn Kimball Mizelle to a federal judgeship. Mizelle is the latest in a line of judges nominated by Donald Trump who have received a "not qualified" rating from the American Bar Association.

Committee Republicans voted unanimously to present Mizelle to the entire Senate for a confirmation vote to serve on the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, part of the Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit. No Democrats voted in favor of advancing the nomination.

According to the HuffPost, Mizelle has never tried either a civil or a criminal case.

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She is a member of the Federalist Society, a legal organization with a conservative and originalist bent — a background she shares with Trump's three Supreme Court nominees.

The ABA noted in a letter addressed to committee Chair Lindsey Graham and Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein that it requires a person serving in a lifetime federal judgeship to have been practicing law for 12 years, a standard Mizelle, who is 33 years old, does not meet.

The letter concludes: "She presents as a delightful person and she has many friends who support her nomination. Her integrity and demeanor are not in question. These attributes however simply do not compensate for the short time she has actually practiced law and her lack of meaningful trial experience."

During Mizelle's confirmation hearing, Feinstein gave her an opportunity to discuss her "not qualified" evaluation.

Mizelle argued that, as a federal prosecutor, "I have handled a wide variety of hearings as lead counsel on behalf of the United States. I've argued those to federal judges at the same kinds of hearings I would be responsible for presiding over. ... I think that's really what gives me the core experience to be able to effectively manage a courtroom."

In the past four years, Trump has advanced 10 candidates deemed "not qualified" by the ABA, a rating applied to none of President Barack Obama's judgeship nominees.

Trump's nominees have also been overwhelmingly white — 92% of them.

Other unqualified appointees have included 36-year-old Alison Rushing, confirmed to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, a Federalist Society member with only 9 years practicing law, and Justin Walker, confirmed first to a seat on the United States District Court for the Western District of Kentucky and then last month to the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Walker is a conservative who roundly attacked Christine Blasey Ford, who had accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault prior to his confirmation. He has also written for the Federalist Society, and had never tried a single case. The ABA said it was unable to determine how many years of his decade out of law school had been spent actively practicing law.

Much of the blame for the influx of unqualified judges lies with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has changed Senate procedural rules to stack the courts.

The result has been the fast-tracking of a slew of hyperconservative Trump nominees with a history of bigotry to lifetime judgeships.

The most notable example is Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, who, although rated "well qualified" by the ABA, has relatively little experience as a judge, serving in that capacity only since 2017, with her entire career prior to that spent as a law professor and scholar.

Many have objected to the installation of Mizelle, including the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, which cited Mizelle's abysmal track record on civil rights as a "Trump loyalist, having worked in the Trump Justice Department to dismantle many critical civil rights protections" and noted her "stunning lack of experience."

None of this is likely to prevent the Republican Senate majority from putting her on the bench.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.