Last month, we wrote an article on the five tactics that President Trump uses to create a “fog of confusion.” One of those tactics is distraction.
The president successfully employed that strategy when he diverted attention away from one of his most alarming executive orders to date. As NowThis reports, the majority of Americans were too focused on the president’s tweets to even notice how he seized control of our judicial system.
On July 10, 2018, President Trump signed an executive order that abolished the exam and competitive hiring process that is required in order to become an administrative law judge (ALJ). Today, there are an estimated 2,000 ALJs that oversee more than one million cases per year.
Civics Lesson: The American Bar Association
The American Bar Association (ABA) was formed on August 21, 1878. With more than 400,000 members, the ABA’s mission is to “serve equally our members, our profession and the public by defending liberty and delivering justice as the national representative of the legal profession.”
The American Bar Association headquarters, located in Washington, D.C. Photo credit: GiuseppeCrimeni / Shutterstock
As Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) explains, “Many of these cases involve some of the most important determinations that affect people’s lives, like Medicare benefits, workplace rights and safety protections, and entitlement to disability compensation. That’s why legal experts and advocates across the ideological spectrum agree that the judges who oversee these should be fair, impartial, and qualified.”
Before President Trump signed this executive order, judges had to meet several prerequisites. For one, they had to have a minimum of seven years of pertinent trial-level experience as an attorney. They also had to pass a six-part exam that includes a timed situational judgment assessment, a timed writing sample, an untimed experience test, a four-hour written evaluation, a logic-based measurement analysis, and pass an interview. But now that President Trump has eliminated these requirements, any lawyer that is in good standing with the bar can become an ALJ.
Hilarie Bass, president of the American Bar Association, referred to the decision as “ill-considered and legally vulnerable.” She further argued that giving agency heads sole hiring discretion “has the potential to politicize the appointment process and interfere with the decisional independence of ALJs.”