When Loyalty is the Most Important Qualification

Matthew Peterson, President Trump’s nominee to be a Federal District Judge, spectacularly flubbed a confirmation hearing last week. Under relatively benign questioning from Senator John Kennedy (R-LA), Peterson was unable to answer even the most basic questions about legal procedure and the operation of the courts.

Peterson, who was nominated several months ago, had time to prepare and could have reviewed the content that likely would have been addressed during the Judiciary Committee hearing. In addition to never having presided over a federal, state, or civil trial, Peterson had no idea what “motion in limine” or the “Daubert standard” was or how they related to the position for which he was nominated.


Peterson’s single most qualifying characteristic, it seems, is the fact that he has never openly opposed Donald Trump or his presidency.

His disastrous testimony during the questioning of Republican Senator Kennedy, along with the immediate aftermath of the debacle, reveal three things:

  1. Loyalty is more important to Donald Trump than than an effective, fair, and highly qualified judiciary.
  2. Peterson incorrectly believed that his loyalty assured him the position on the bench. He clearly took no time at all to prepare.
  3. President Trump blamed others for the poor qualifications of his own nominee. In an interview earlier this week, Senator Kennedy recounted a conversation with President Trump in which he claims Trump told him “Kennedy, when some of my guys send someone who is not qualified, you do your job.”

Peterson withdrew his nomination.

In the final analysis, Donald Trump nominated a poorly qualified candidate for the Federal Judiciary and then blamed others for the mistake.

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