Last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee advanced the nomination of Brett Talley a third-year lawyer who has never tried a case. Talley, whom President Trump nominated in September, was unanimously deemed unqualified for a federal district judge appointment by the American Bar Association.
Talley, 36, currently serves as a deputy assistant attorney general for the Justice Department, a position he’s held since January. He graduated from Harvard Law School in 2007 and his resumé includes two years of clerking for a federal district court in Alabama followed by another two years at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit. According to his LinkedIn page, Talley was a senior writer for Mitt Romney’s failed presidential bid and speechwriter for Ohio Sen. Rob Portman.
Concerns about Talley’s inexperience, however, might be outweighed by his personal blog and Twitter. In January 2013, Talley wrote a blog post titled, “A Call to Arms: It’s Time to Join the National Rifle Association.” As The Washington Post noted, he published the post a month after a gunman massacred 20 school children at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, CT.
Responding to a written set of questions for the Judiciary Committee, Talley admitted to authoring tweets which demonstrate his clear political biases: “The west part of #NeverTrump is that they are helping Hillary win the election. Their self-righteousness while doing it is a close second,” he once tweeted. “Hillary Rotten Clinton might be the best Trumpism yet,” he wrote another time.
Only four judges have unanimously received “not qualified” ratings from the ABA since 1989. According to NPR, two of those ratings were given to Trump nominees. Vanita Gupta, president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, described Talley as “wholly unqualified” for a lifetime appointment in a letter opposing his nomination sent to Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, a Republican who chairs the the Judiciary Committee. “He has demonstrated ideologically extreme views that call into question his temperament and ability to approach cases with the fairness and open-mindedness necessary to serve as a federal judge,” Gupta wrote.
“I don’t see extensive trial experience as the sole factor in deciding whether a nominee is qualified,” wrote Grassley in a letter defending Talley’s nomination.