WASHINGTON—Notwithstanding its leftist political leanings, the American Bar Association (ABA) on Thursday gave Judge Neil Gorsuch a “well qualified” rating to serve as a justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.
The ABA has three ratings for judicial nominees: not qualified, qualified, and well qualified. The ABA’s standing committee on the federal judiciary was unanimous in granting Gorsuch its highest rating.
Many non-lawyers do not know that the ABA is a private organization, with no governmental power or official status. Only 400,000 out of America’s 1.3 million lawyers—less than one-third—are ABA members.
Nevertheless, the ABA issues public ratings on judicial nominees. Although President George W. Bush briefly tried to discourage use of these ratings, Senate Democrats insisted on continuing to weigh those ratings when considering nominees to the federal bench.
Examples suggest that the ABA’s left-leaning ideology influences some of its judicial evaluations. However, Gorsuch has an extraordinary biography as a scholar (Ph.D. from Oxford as well as degrees for Harvard and Columbia Law School), former Supreme Court law clerk, senior Justice Department official, private litigator, and federal appeals judge. As such, experts widely expected he would receive the highest marks.
Noting that Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) have called the ABA’s rating the “gold standard” for judicial nominees, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) said, “The ABA’s ringing endorsement is no surprise given Judge Gorsuch’s sterling credentials and his distinguished decade-long record on the Tenth Circuit.”
Gorsuch’s confirmation hearings begin March 20.
Ken Klukowski is senior legal editor for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @kenklukowski.