8th Circuit nominee Grasz confirmed by the Senate despite ABA committee's 'not qualified' rating

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Screenshot of Leonard Steven Grasz.

The U.S. Senate on Tuesday confirmed Leonard Steven Grasz to a seat on the St. Louis-based 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The vote was 50-48 for confirmation, report The Hill and the Washington Examiner.

The ABA Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary had given Grasz a “not qualified” rating. The committee had cited concerns that Grasz could not set aside a “passionately held social agenda” to respect precedent, including Roe v. Wade.

Pamela Bresnahan, chair of the ABA Standing Committee, commented in a statement released after the Senate vote. “Our goal has been to assist the Senate Judiciary Committee by conducting exhaustive, nonpartisan peer evaluations of nominees,” she said. “These evaluations may provide information that would not otherwise be available to them as they assess the qualifications of nominees for these important lifetime appointments. Ultimately, the Senate decides who will be on the bench.”

Grasz was a senior counsel at Husch Blackwell in Omaha, Nebraska, and the state’s former chief deputy attorney general.

During the ABA evaluation, Grasz’s professional peers said they feared he would unable to separate his role as an advocate from that of a judge, and shared instances in which Grasz was “gratuitously rude,” Bresnahan previously said in a prepared statement. Some lawyers interviewed, however, did not share those concerns.

During Senate Judiciary Committee hearings, Republican senators had charged that the ABA is a liberal advocacy organization. ABA President Hilarie Bass responded in a statement that that the ABA “is a nonpartisan organization” and the ABA Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary “has thoroughly vetted thousands of nominees using a fair and nonpartisan process that no other organization can match.”

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