Volume 18, Number 4
June 2001

The Chair’s Corner

An Open Letter to Ann Coulter

By Wynn A. Gunderson

A recent column by Ann Coulter, of the United Press Syndicate, viciously attacked the American Bar Association for its role in the vetting of federal judicial candidates. Unencumbered by the facts, the columnist launched a diatribe against the ABA that raked up the usual arguments of liberal policy positions and partisan evaluations of judicial candidates. She also asserted that "every single panel discussion (at ABA meetings) is now on women and the minorities," which obviously is patently untrue.

The columnist made no mention of whether she has ever become actively involved in the day-to-day volunteer work of her professional association, or even attempted to make her voice heard within the ABA on issues of concern to her. Perhaps she, as some other dissidents, finds it far more convenient to complain than to attempt to effect change.

This is my response to Ann Coulter.

Dear Ms. Coulter,

I am compelled to respond to your recent column casting aspersions upon the American Bar Association while criticizing its pre-nomination vetting of federal judges. Your remarks are a disservice to thousands of hard-working ABA members who volunteer substantial amounts of their time at the expense of their busy schedules in order to make their profession better through the effective education of lawyers. They are serious in their quest to provide better, more efficient, and cost-effective service to their clients.

Ms. Coulter, most disheartening was the fact that much of what you have written is totally false, and can potentially cause serious damage to your profession. Despite your contentions, the facts clearly show that the vetting process utilized by the ABA in the course of providing input to past administrations has not been biased toward Democratic nominees. Since 1960, 26 individuals out of approximately 2,300 presidential nominees have been rated "non-qualified" by the ABA Standing Committee on Federal Judiciary, which handles the vetting process. Of those 26 individuals, 23 were nominees of Democratic presidents, and three were nominees of Republican presidents.

You may not know that it was a Republican president (Dwight Eisenhower) who initially requested the ABA’s assistance in the nomination process, and the ABA has served nine presidents through that process since that time.

You claim that substantial resignations have occurred due to controversial positions taken by the ABA in the past, thus seriously damaging the association. For your information, the ABA’s membership is currently the largest in the history of the association, with approximately 410,000 members. This past year is not a fluke, as the association has set new records in each of the last five years, hardly an indication there have been mass resignations by its members. Not only is the ABA a rapidly growing organization, but it is the largest volunteer professional membership organization in the world.

Finally, Ms. Coulter, I have come to the conclusion that you must be attending different ABA meetings than I am, because it has not been my experience that the seminars and panel discussions are limited to subjects involving women and minorities, although focusing on these two groups is certainly worthwhile. You see, we have made a serious attempt to make sure that the panels are reflective of the makeup of our profession and our society. As you surely must know, current statistics show that women enjoy an almost equal percentage of enrollment in law schools as men.

Ms. Coulter, by now I am sure you realize the allegations you made are not only false but grossly unfair, and nothing more than an attempt to malign the ABA. If you truly believe that the ABA has the many imperfections you allege, I invite you to become involved in the association and work to eliminate that with which you disagree.

I hope to see you at the Annual Meeting in Chicago on August 2-8, 2001.

Sincerely, Wynn A. Gunderson, Section Chair

ABAGeneral Practice, Solo and Small Firm Division

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