Brett Talley of Alabama, a controversial judicial nominee selected by President Donald Trump, once voiced skepticism on a message board that any death row inmate can be exonerated by evidence and suggested that they be shot to death as capital punishment. The U.S. Senate has not yet confirmed Talley to a lifetime appointment.
On Nov. 9, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved Talley's nomination by a party-line vote. Trump had nominated Talley, currently a senior official of the Department of Justice's Office of Legal Policy, to take the seat on the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama.
On Nov. 13, a journalistic investigation found that Talley had made thousands of posts on a message board that touched on politics and the law that he had not disclosed to the committee, BuzzFeed News reports.
Since March 2005, Talley commented on the message boards of TideFans.com under the user pseudonym BamainBoston. He had published over 16,000 posts, many of which touched on topics such as gun laws, immigration and the death penalty. White House spokesperson Hogan Gidley asserted in a statement that Talley did not have to disclose the message board posts to the Senate committee because "message board conversations are not deemed 'published writings' ... nor are they deemed the equivalent of 'books', 'articles', or 'reports.'"
Talley, who would potentially hear capital punishment cases if he were appointed a district court judge, wrote on the message board that he was not convinced that any death row inmate had been executed while innocent since 1977, Slate reports.
"Handled a bunch of death row cases in my previous job," Talley wrote in April 2017. "With one exception, every one of them admitted that they'd committed the crime but were trying to mitigate to life without parole based on some excuse ... And the one exception the guy was clearly guilty."
Talley added: "Death row cases with an actual innocence claim are kind of like abortions based on rape, incest, or the life of the mother. They certainly happen, but the whole debate shouldn't turn on them."
In 2014, Talley also voiced support for carrying out capital punishment with firearms. Responding to a story of a botched execution, Talley wrote: "Just shoot them. That's effective."
In 2015, Talley suggested that guns should be used as an alternative to lethal injection because bullets were "cheap."
Talley was already a controversial nominee before his message board posts entered the news. On Nov. 7, the American Bar Association announced that Talley was not qualified to be a judicial nominee. Overall, Talley has practiced law for three years and has never tried a case, according to The Washington Post.
On Nov. 13, it was made public that Talley is married to Ann Donaldson, the chief of staff for White House counsel Donald McGahn. Tally did not disclose his familial connection to the White House before the Senate Judiciary Committee, The New York Times reports.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders stood by the Trump nominee, stating: "[Talley] is more than qualified to serve in the federal judiciary."
Sources: BuzzFeed News, The New York Times, Slate, The Washington Post / Featured Image: Ken Piorkowski/Wikimedia Commons / Embedded Images: Ken Piorkowski/Wikimedia Commons / Embedded Images: Liberty Day Institute/YouTube, Matt McClain/The Washington Post