On June 11, 2018 President Trump nominated Jonathan Allen Kobes to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. Kobes was nominated to fill the seat of Judge Roger Wollman, who announced he will take senior status.
Kobes’s relative lack of legal experience for a nominee to a U.S. Court of Appeals is noteworthy. According to his Senate Judiciary Questionnaire, he has served as lead counsel in just two trials that led to a verdict. It appears in his questionnaire that he has had just one appellate oral argument. He has argued no cases before the Supreme Court. And, he has no legal scholarship, authored no law review articles, nor made any public pronouncements on legal issues (his only substantive public statements, in a Dutch newspaper, relate to politics and Donald Trump). His career of late has been primarily as a political aide to Senator Mike Rounds.
In the absence of extensive trial, appellate or academic accomplishments, the most notable aspects of his record are his closeness to South Dakota’s junior senator and his personal political views. For example, he has fought reproductive rights, defended President Trump’s attacks on federal judges, and been a member of the Federalist Society and National Rifle Association. Little in his record suggests he will be a fair-minded judge who will properly apply critical rights and legal protections.
Kobes’s nomination stands in sharp contrast to this claim and suggests the opposite: that the White House is prioritizing ideology and Republican Party connections over credentials – while it continues to place candidates who are predominantly white men on the bench.
Alliance for Justice opposes Kobes’s confirmation.