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Majority of judicial rating committee says Kansas attorney not qualified for federal bench

— The judicial nomination of Johnson County attorney Holly Lou Teeter was dealt a setback this week when a majority of members on an American Bar Association rating committee gave her a "not qualified" rating for a seat on the federal bench.

The rating, which was announced Tuesday, indicated that a "substantial majority" of the ABA's Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary said she was not qualified, while a minority on the 15-member panel rated her "qualified."

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Holly Lou Teeter

The committee did not state publicly why Teeter was given that rating. However, an ABA publication about the committee says the committee "believes that a nominee to the federal bench ordinarily should have at least twelve years’ experience in the practice of law" to be qualified.

Teeter, a 2006 graduate of the University of Kansas School of Law, currently has only 11.5 years of experience.

An independent website called the Vetting Room indicated that Teeter's narrow lack of experience could be a strike against her but that it was unlikely to affect her chances for confirmation.

“While skeptics may question Teeter’s youth and inexperience, she is not the youngest nominee put forward by the Trump Administration,” the website stated. “Furthermore, Teeter’s supporters will note Teeter’s stellar academic credentials, and her substantive experience clerking on the federal bench for five years. Additionally, the fact that Teeter has clerked only for judges nominated by Democratic presidents may reassure senators of her overall moderation. As such, with (Sens. Pat) Roberts and (Jerry) Moran strongly in her corner, it is unlikely that Teeter will face many problems through the process.”

Moran also issued a statement calling Teeter “highly qualified to serve Kansans as a federal judge.”

“She is not a partisan, political nominee — she clerked for two well-respected judges appointed by Democratic presidents,” Moran said. “The ABA is refusing to recommend any candidate who has been engaged in the legal profession for less than 12 years. Ms. Teeter has practiced law for 11 years and 1 month. More than a number on a page, I see an individual who is fully qualified and prepared for judicial service. This position has remained vacant for three years — it is due time to fill this judgeship. I have no hesitation — none — in strongly recommending Ms. Teeter to my Judiciary Committee colleagues and will continue to work to see her confirmed in a timely manner.”

The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to consider Teeter's nomination Thursday, along with several other nominees for federal judges and federal prosecutors.

The panel had been scheduled to vote on her nomination Nov. 2, but that vote was delayed because the ABA committee had not yet issued ratings for Teeter and one other judicial nominee, Brett Joseph Talley, of Alabama.

Since then, the ABA committee unanimously rated Talley as "not qualified."

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