Re: ABA Committee Smokes Grasz

by Ed Whelan

With respect to the ABA’s smearing of Eighth Circuit nominee Steve Grasz as “not qualified” (see my Parts 1, 2, and 3), I somehow missed this op-ed two weeks ago by senior federal district judge Richard G. Kopf. Kopf says he was “stunned” by the ABA’s report on Grasz, and he makes clear his strong disagreement with that rating. Kopf reveals that he advised the ABA that Grasz is “well qualified” for the nomination, and he further states (among other things) that Grasz “is by all accounts a brilliant and honorable person.”

Kopf’s assessment is particularly noteworthy because, as Kopf points out, his assessment of Grasz as well qualified “was based primarily upon his appearances before me when he served in the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office, and particularly regarding litigation over Nebraska’s abortion laws.” (Emphasis added.) Rejecting Grasz’s arguments, Kopf ruled that Nebraska’s ban on partial-birth abortion was unconstitutional, and (as he also points out) he wrote a law-review article taking issue with Grasz’s view of how the Supreme Court’s abortion precedents applied in this context.

In other words, Kopf wouldn’t be expected to be well disposed towards Grasz, and he is also very familiar with the matters that are at the heart of the ABA’s criticism. That he nonetheless regards Grasz as well qualified is worth far more than the ABA’s incompetent criticisms.

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