The Spectacle Blog

ABA’s Political Hacks

By on 4.13.06 | 1:06PM

If anybody needed any more proof that the ABA is little more than just another heavily politicized liberal lobby group, witness its new rating of DC Circuit Court of Appeals nominee Brett Kavanaugh, a superbly credentialed and highly liked and respected lawyer who just so happens to work in a top job in the Bush White House. Because of Democratic stalling tactics, he has been rated by the ABA not once, not twice, but three times. The first time, the ABA committee by a "substantial majority" gave him its highest rating of "well qualified," while a minority rated him "qualified." The second time he was rated, he earned the exact same designation. This time, though, after being subject to a senatorial "hold" because, indirectly at least, Hillary R. Clinton seems to have a Whitewater-related personal vendetta against him, his ratings suddenly changed. Now a "substantial majority" rate him "qualified," while only a minority rate him "well qualified."

This is truly bizarre. How can somebody become less qualified than before while working as the staff secretary (a high position) at the White House? His resume hasn't changed for the worse in the past three years (or even the past year, since his second rating of "well qualified); it has only gotten better. The only way to explain the downward change in his ratings is to ascribe it to pure politics. Now that it's known that Hillary REALLY objects to him, suddenly the supposedly nonpartisan ABA committee has at least somewhat soured on him. What a total crock of horse manure!

Granted, for most of the committee to say he is qualified and several members to rate him well qualified is for him to still rank well enough to produce no confirmation problems based on the ABA rating alone. In other words, his rating is still solid. But this is a guy with terrific Yale credentials, clerkships for federal appellate judges and for a Supreme Court justice, and substantial work at the top of the legal field both in public and private practice -- without any blemishes along the way. How could he be anything less than "well qualified"? And how could he become less qualified than the ABA already pronounced him?

In the end, it really shouldn't matter. The ABA makes itself, not Kavanaugh, look bad here. All the ABA is, is a supercilious guild with a not-very-well-hidden political agenda. Forget "well qualified" or even "qualified": I find the ABA clearly "not qualified" to render judgment on a nominee's fitness for the bench.

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