Jonathan Kobes, 44, was confirmed by the Senate for a seat on the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
In a historical first, it took a vote by Vice President Mike Pence to break a 50-50 tie to grant the lifetime appointment to Kobes.
Kobes received a not-qualified ranking from the ABA last September. Paul Moxley, chair of the ABA Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary, wrote to Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, “The Standing Committee had difficulty analyzing Mr. Kobes’ professional competence because he was unable to provide sufficient writing samples of the caliber required to satisfy Committee members that he was capable of doing the work of a United States Circuit Court judge. Although Mr. Kobes provided some writing samples, they are either from Mr. Kobes’ early days as a lawyer, relating to relatively simple criminal law matters, or from his recent legislative work for Senator Rounds. None of the writing that we reviewed is reflective of complex legal analysis, knowledge of the law, or ability to write about complex matters in a clear and cogent manner — qualities that are essential for a Circuit Court judge.”
The standing committee’s vote on Kobes was split. Kobes, a 2000 graduate of Harvard Law School, has been employed in the office of U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds, R-South Dakota, since 2014. He takes the seat of Judge Roger Wollman, for whom he was a clerk from 2000 to 2001.