Raising the Bar

Article excerpt


Last week, the overtly liberal American Bar Association (ABA), which has passed resolutions supporting abortion rights and a moratorium on capital punishment, announced that Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts Jr. had received the organization's highest ranking. The ABA's 15-member Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary unanimously declared Judge Roberts to be "well-qualified" for the Supreme Court.

Immediately after, Sen. Patrick Leahy, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, tried to pour cold water over the ABA's highly favorable review. In fact, it was the third time that the ABA had unanimously declared Judge Roberts to be "well-qualified." In 2001 and 2003, after President Bush nominated Judge Roberts to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, the ABA unanimously issued a "well-qualified" opinion each time.

In March 2001, Mr. Bush rightly terminated the ABA's role as the semi-official screening committee for prospective nominees to the federal judiciary. Democrats screamed. Mr. Leahy and New York Sen. Chuck Schumer wrote to the White House declaring that the ABA's rating system represented the "gold standard" by which prospective nominees to the federal bench should be judged. The two Democrats warned in a press release that "[l]imiting the ABA's role will harm the process of selecting and confirming federal judges and threatens the quality and integrity of the federal bench. As members of the Senate Judiciary Committee," they announced, "we will soon meet with the ABA to discuss how best to reincorporate them into the process."

Mr. Bush sent his first batch of appellate-court nominees to the Senate in May 2001, and majority control of the Senate reverted to the Democrats the following month. …