Report: Jonathan Kobes

Updated: Jan 3, 2020

Kobes is an ideologue and a partisan, and blatantly unqualified to sit on the federal bench.

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The ABA report on Jonathan Kobes can be found here.

From the report:

“None of the writing that we received is reflective of complex legal analysis, knowledge of the law, or ability to write about complex matters in a clear and cogent manner.”

From the Alliance for Justice:

Kobes represented, pro bono, a group of fake women’s health centers[6] seeking to uphold a South Dakota law that required physicians to read a predetermined script to women seeking an abortion. See Planned Parenthood Minn., N.D., S.D. v. Rounds, 2005 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 50492 (Sept. 23, 2005 D.S.D.) Under the law, the abortion care provider was required to tell woman seeking abortion care that abortion ends “the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being,” that she has an “existing relationship” with the “unborn human being” and that abortion increases the risk of suicide.[7]

Planned Parenthood challenged the law, arguing it placed an undue burden on women seeking abortions and burdened physicians’ rights by compelling them to speak. Planned Parenthood argued that the advisory was misleading and not supported by medical evidence.  A federal district court granted an injunction in favor of Planned Parenthood, and a panel of the Eighth Circuit affirmed, holding that the law violated the physicians’ First Amendment rights. Planned Parenthood v. Rounds, 375 F. Supp. 2d 881 (D.S.D. 2005); Planned Parenthood Minn. v. Rounds, 467 F.3d 716 (8th Cir. 2006).

However, the Eighth Circuit reheard the case en banc, and Judge Raymond Gruender, who was on President Trump’s short list for the Supreme Court, wrote the majority opinion. Planned Parenthood Minn., N.D., S.D. v. Rounds, 530 F.3d 724 (8th Cir. 2008) (en banc). Gruender reversed the district court’s injunction and remanded, writing that these biased counseling requirements were acceptable because there was not sufficient evidence that the requirements were not “truthful, non-misleading and relevant to the patient’s decision to have an abortion, and thus part of the practice of medicine.” Id. at 734–35 (internal citations omitted). On remand, the district court again granted summary judgment for Planned Parenthood, holding that there was no evidence that suicide was a “known medical risk” of abortion; and a panel of the Eighth Circuit affirmed. Planned Parenthood v. Rounds, 653 F.3d 662 (8th Cir. 2011). Again, the case was reheard en banc, and again Judge Gruender wrote the majority opinion, reversing the district court’s ruling. Planned Parenthood Minn. v. Rounds, 686 F.3d 889 (8th Cir. 2012) (en banc).

Thanks in part to Kobes, the law remains on the books harming South Dakota women.

From the Alliance for Justice:

Senate Confirms Blatantly Unqualified Judicial Nominee Jonathan Kobes

WASHINGTON, D.C., December 11, 2018 – Following today’s Senate vote to confirm Jonathan Kobes to a seat on the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, AFJ President Nan Aron released the following statement:

“Jonathan Kobes is blatantly unqualified for a lifetime seat on the federal bench – but thanks to his highly partisan credentials, Republicans in the Senate have seen fit to ram through his nomination. His confirmation endangers the rights of millions of people in the Eighth Circuit and the country. By confirming Kobes, the majority of Senate Republicans have proven they are willing to ignore any and all deficiencies in a nominee’s record in order to pack our courts with partisan yes-men who will continue to rubber-stamp this administration’s dangerous agenda.”

From The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights:

Mr. Kobes – the General Counsel for Senator Mike Rounds, who presumably recommended him for this judgeship – is a conservative ideologue who received a rating of Not Qualified from the independent and nonpartisan American Bar Association’s (“ABA”) Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary.  The Senate should reject his nomination.

Rated Not Qualified by the ABA:  Mr. Kobes is now the sixth Trump judicial nominee to be rated Not Qualified by the ABA.  This appears to be the highest number of judicial nominees to be ranked Not Qualified during the first two years of a presidency.

While the ABA rating is only one factor in determining whether a nominee is qualified for a lifetime appointment to the federal judiciary, Mr. Kobes’s nomination exemplifies the poor judgment of President Trump in removing the ABA from the pre-nomination process, and the poor judgment of Chairman Grassley in providing hearings to nominees like Mr. Kobes before their ABA rating is submitted.  Chairman Grassley held a hearing for Mr. Kobes on August 22, 2018, despite the fact that the ABA didn’t complete and submit its rating to the Senate Judiciary Committee until September 17, 2018.  Chairman Grassley has also jettisoned the committee’s tradition of allowing the ABA to offer live testimony about its rationale for rating a nominee Not Qualified.  Chairman Grassley’s partisan and relentless effort to steamroll Trump judicial nominees through the committee will be an indelible stain on his legacy.


Insensitivity to LGBTQ Equality:  In 2012, Mr. Kobes served on the board of Bethany Christian Services, a foster care agency with a policy of discriminating against same-sex families.  Earlier this year, the city of Philadelphia accused this agency of violating city contracting laws and threatened to cut off public funding for this agency unless it changed its policy.[5]  Mr. Kobes admitted he was fully aware of the agency’s policy when he joined the board.  In response to a question from Senator Harris, Mr. Kobes stated: “I was aware that Bethany did not place children with same-sex couples in 2012.”[6]  It is disturbing that he would knowingly serve on the board of an agency that discriminates against LGBTQ families.

#RFingTheCourts #WhitewashingTheBench

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