Jewish World Review Feb. 28, 2003 / 26 Adar I, 5763

Dan Abrams

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Consumer Reports


Is prez signaling a return to the American Bar Association ratings for prospective judicial candidates?


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | 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.

Up

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