Washington – Trump Judge Pick Who Drew Ridicule After Hearing Withdraws

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    Washington – A Trump judicial nominee whose inability to answer basic legal questions at his confirmation hearing brought him widespread ridicule has withdrawn, a White House official said Monday.

    Matthew Petersen, nominated by Trump to the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, became an internet sensation after the video of his confirmation hearing — during which Petersen was unable to define basic legal terms — was posted online.

    In his resignation letter to the president, which was obtained by The Associated Press, Petersen said that while he was honored to have been nominated for the position, “it has become clear to me over the past few days that my nomination has become a distraction — and that is not fair for you or your Administration.”

    “I had hoped that my nearly two decades of public service might carry more weight than my two worst minutes on television,” he went on to say. “However, I am no stranger to political realities, and I do not wish to be a continued distraction from the important work of your Administration and the Senate.”

    The letter was dated Saturday, Dec. 16.

    During the confirmation hearing, Louisiana Sen. John Kennedy pressed Petersen, a member of the Federal Election Commission who testified he had never tried a case, on his qualifications to the bench.

    Kennedy said in an interview Monday with WWL-TV in New Orleans that Trump called him Saturday and said he did not personally interview Petersen. Trump, according to Kennedy, said his staff chose the nominees.

    “He has told me, ‘Kennedy, when some of my guys send someone who is not qualified, you do your job,'” Kennedy said in the interview.

    Kennedy said he had no idea that Petersen lacked the experience for the post.

    “Just because you’ve seen ‘My Cousin Vinny’ doesn’t qualify you to be a federal judge,” Kennedy said, a reference to the 1992 movie in which an inexperienced lawyer tries — and wins — a big case. “And he has no litigation experience. And my job on the judiciary committee is to catch him. I would strongly suggest he not give up his day job.”

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    4 COMMENTS

    1. This nominee was dumber than any recent federal judicial nominee, going back decades. He did the right think in withdrawing. However, I think that he was asked to withdraw.

    2. There is a powerful מוסר השכל here that is relevant elsewhere besides government and the court system. Every position has the requirements of certain qualifications. Being a nice guy, even a really nice guy is usually not a requisite standard for a job. It may be a good asset, but it has never prepared anyone to serve as a judge or lawyer, a doctor or therapist, or a Rov or mechanech. One needs to pass the muster of having adequate training and knowledge of the subject matter to be eligible to hold a position.

      So many rabbonim today work far beyond the limits of their knowledge and experience. With the greatest of intentions, few know much about shalom bayis and how to guide a couple in crisis, addictions (including substances, gambling, internet schmutz, etc.), childhood issues, and even chinuch. The abilities to say shiurim and deliver beautiful divrei Torah are praiseworthy assets, but do not render the Rov capable of tending to these above tasks. It is so hard to clean up after the damage done by these otherwise wonderful, brilliant, talmidei chachomim. Ask any therapist or askan.

      It is not just the lawyer who has never litigated a case. It is all of us.

      • Although your comments are well taken and expressed articulately, it’s interesting that of all the possible examples, you chose rabbanus. Perhaps other professions have similar issues. Do we perhaps have an agenda?

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