Matthew Petersen, one of President Trump’s recent judicial nominees, admittedly had never tried a case in court, although he has had extensive legal experience that matches or exceeds that of past nominees confirmed to federal circuit courts. And the American Bar Association gave him a unanimous qualified rating.

In 2013, President Barack Obama nominated Kentanji Jackson to the District of Columbia court, although she had rarely argued a case in a courtroom. She was later confirmed.

In June 1999, President Bill Clinton nominated Elena Kagan to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, although she had never argued a case before any court. That nomination was not heard.

And, in January 2013, President Obama appointed Kagan to be solicitor general of the United States to argue cases before the Supreme Court of the United States, although, by then, she had only scant experience as a trial lawyer. She was later nominated and confirmed as an associate justice of the SCOTUS, where she now serves.

It is rarely mentioned that in 1973, Hillary Clinton, shortly after she was awarded the degree of doctor of jurisprudence by Yale University, took the District of Columbia bar exam with 817 other applicants, but was not among the 551 who passed it. She did pass the Arkansas bar exam.

Matthew Petersen is not the first, and probably not the last, nominee to the federal bench never to have tried a case to verdict in a court of law, even though a Democrat senator from Rhode Island, Sheldon Whitehouse, took great delight in lampooning Petersen’s lack of trial experience for maximum political entertainment.

Walter J. Eno