The testimony of one of President Donald Trump's latest judicial nominees went viral Thursday after the potential future U.S. District Court judge was shown to have no knowledge of basic legal terms and little experience in law.
Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) asked Federal Election Commissioner Matthew Spencer Petersen if he had ever tried a criminal or civil case or a case in a state or federal court, finally questioning whether he had even taken a deposition without supervision from a more senior attorney—the answers to all of which were "no."
Petersen also appeared to be unfamiliar with legal rules dictating court procedures and several examples of legal terminology.
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) posted about Petersen's testimony on Twitter, expressing shock at his flimsy qualifications for an appointment as a federal judge.
— Sheldon Whitehouse (@SenWhitehouse) December 15, 2017
But Petersen is only the latest of Trump's judicial nominees to draw attention for their lack of eligibility. Earlier this week, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) urged the Trump administration to withdraw its nominations of Brett Talley and Jeff Mateer, nominated to district courts in Alabama and Texas, respectively.
Talley has been found to have limited legal experience and failed to disclose that he is married to a White House Counsel lawyer, creating a serious conflict of interest should he be nominated, while Mateer has expressed homophobic and transphobic views and has supported LGBTQ "conversion therapy."
As Axios reported, Trump has set a record for the most circuit court judges confirmed in his first year in office, with 12 confirmations—but on social media, critics suggested the president is placing quantity—and cronyism—over quality in his nominating process. Petersen served on the FEC alongside White House Counsel Don McGahn, who now oversees the president's judicial nominations.
Serious damage to the integrity of the judicial system. We may not always like the personal politics of a nominee but mostly accept it as long as nominees are highly qualified lawyers. Confirmations should be put on hold until Trump demonstrates concern for quality not cronyism. https://t.co/1v0Tw8J6SW
— Joyce Alene (@JoyceWhiteVance) December 15, 2017
The context here is that White House Counsel Don McGahn, who oversees Trump's judicial nominees, was an FEC commissioner serving alongside this guy. https://t.co/G3TTMq2Qv8
— Andrew Prokop (@awprokop) December 15, 2017
The sickening slide of the GOP under Trump appears finally to have hit bottom, as Republicans begin to push back against his extremist, unqualified judicial nominees. https://t.co/gS50p9uO7I
— Sheldon Whitehouse (@SenWhitehouse) December 13, 2017