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June 01, 2016

Merrick Garland receives "Well Qualified" rating from ABA committee

The ABA Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary released its unanimous rating of “Well Qualified” for Supreme Court nominee Merrick B. Garland on June 21, sending the rating letter and explanatory statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee, the White House, the Department of Justice, and the nominee.

The Standing Committee, chaired  by Karol Corbin Walker, concluded that Garland, currently the chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, is “a preeminent member of the legal profession with outstanding legal ability and exceptional breadth of experience” and that he “meets the very highest standards of integrity, professional competence and judicial temperament.”

In reviewing Garland’s nomination, the Standing Committee conducted investigations into the nominee’s professional qualifications in every federal circuit in the United States, commissioned three reading groups to review the nominee’s legal writings, and invited input from 3,085 individuals, including all federal appellate and district judges and magistrate judges as well as many state judges, lawyers, and community and bar representatives.

According to its explanatory statement, the Standing Committee’s evaluation is based solely on its comprehensive, nonpartisan, non-ideological peer review of the nominee’s integrity, professional competence, and judicial temperament.

“ The unanimous consensus of everyone we interviewed was that Judge Garland is superbly competent to serve on the United States Supreme Court,” Walker wrote. This significant point, she said, warrants repeating: all of the experienced, dedicated, and knowledgeable sitting judges, several former solicitor generals from both political parties, legal scholars from top law schools across the country, and lawyers who have worked with or against the nominee in private practice, government or within the judiciary describe the nominee as outstanding in all respects and cite specific evidence in support of that view. 

President Obama nominated Garland on March 16 to fill the Supreme Court vacancy resulting from the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. The Senate Republican leadership and the Senate Judiciary Committee immediately reiterated earlier statements, however, that there would be no consideration of any nominee during this election year, maintaining that the nomination should be made by the next president.

“It is now imperative that the Senate fulfills its constitutional responsibilities to consider and act promptly on the Supreme Court nominee,” ABA President Paulette Brown said following release of the ABA rating.

“While the Court continues to function, its 4-4 decisions do not establish precedent and leave open questions on issues that are vital to the lives of everyday people,” Brown said.

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