Jewish World Review Feb. 28, 2003 / 26 Adar I, 5763
Is prez signaling a return to the American Bar Association ratings for prospective judicial candidates?
President Bush, again, cited the
"well qualified rating" that the American Bar
Association awarded to Miguel Estrada, the
president's nominee to the U.S. Court of Appeals
for the D.C. circuit. Well, that's great except this
is the same president who has excluded the ABA
from the evaluation process.
Every president since Eisenhower has presented a
candidate to the ABA before sending the name to the
Senate. That doesn't mean the president has to abide by the
recommendation, but it's always held a lot of weight.
The ABA assesses whether a candidate is qualified, not
qualified or well qualified based on free criteria: professional
competence, judicial temperament, and personal integrity.
They're not asking how judges would decide cases,
just if they're qualified to do so-a legal evaluation, not a
political one. Now, armed with dueling studies on the
ABA's record, this administration decided they had a liberal
bias and that in essence, they could not be trusted. This
despite the fact that the woman who chairs the 15-person
committee on judicial nominations is a former assistant
attorney general under President Reagan.
And in only two of the almost 140 President Bush
nominees have been found to be not qualified, a number
completely consistent with previous administrations. If the
president doesn't trust the ABA the way everybody from
Kennedy to Reagan did, then he shouldn't cite them at all.
But I'll just hope that maybe this means he's preparing to
welcome them back into the process.
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JWR contributor Dan Abrams anchors The Abrams Report, Monday through Friday from 6-7 p.m. ET on MSNBC TV. He also covers legal stories for NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw, Today and Dateline NBC. To visit his website, click here. Comment by clicking here.
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