November 01, 2017

Statement of ABA President Hilarie Bass Re: ABA judicial evaluations

WASHINGTON, Nov. 1, 2017 – In a democracy based on the rule of law, maintaining the high quality of the judiciary is of utmost importance. One of the most important responsibilities of the American Bar Association is to conduct independent, nonpartisan peer evaluations on every nominee to every federal court in the country. 

Since first requested by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1953, the ABA has been conducting these reviews continuously. The reviews are conducted by the ABA Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary, a nonpartisan, independent group of 15 distinguished lawyers representing every judicial circuit in the country.

The committee fully evaluates every nominee for every federal judgeship, and rates each nominee as “well qualified,” “qualified” or “not qualified.” Committee members conduct extensive, confidential reviews of every nominee’s integrity, professional competence and judicial temperament. The committee does not take into consideration a nominee’s philosophy, political affiliation or ideology. In the case of Leonard Steven Grasz, for example, committee members interviewed 207 lawyers, judges and others who have worked with Mr. Grasz in various capacities, some for decades.

To date, the committee has evaluated 45 judicial candidates nominated by President Trump, and 43 of those nominees were deemed “qualified” or “well qualified.” Those candidates included U.S. Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, who was rated “well qualified.”

The American Bar Association is proud of the Standing Committee’s comprehensive, nonpartisan reviews of every federal judicial nominee. The quality of our courts and our system of justice depends on it.

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