What does this even mean?

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The American Bar Association Standing Committee has three possible ratings it gives nominees to the Federal Judiciary: “well qualified,” “qualified,” and “not qualified.” The Standing Committee evaluates nominees based on “professional competence, integrity, and judicial temperament.”

On March 18, 2022, the Standing Committee gave Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson the same “well qualified” rating it bestowed on the most recent Supreme Court nominees making the differences between the Standing Committee’s ratings of nominees too subtle and unreliable to be useful.

For example, the Standing Committee’s “well qualified” rating of Ketanji Brown Jackson was by unanimous vote, while Amy Coney Barrett only received the rating of “well qualified” from a “substantial majority” of the Standing Committee, and a rating of “qualified” by a minority of the Committee.

For Brett Kavanaugh, in 2006 the Standing Committee downgraded his rating to “qualified” citing concerns about his “professional experience and the question of his freedom from bias and open-mindedness,” and “the nominee’s ability to be balanced and fair should he assume a federal judgeship.”

However, the Standing Committee upgraded corrupt crybaby Kavanaugh’s rating to “well-qualified” by unanimous vote on August 31, 2018, which Republicans love to tout. Never mind that, after the now infamous September 27, 2018 Senate Judiciary Committee hearings, the Standing Committee announced it would re-evaluate Kavanaugh’s rating, citing his ‘temperament’ during the hearings. But, on October 15th, the Committee dropped the review, saying it was no longer applicable after his narrow confirmation.

During the Senate hearings on Clarence Thomas, following the testimony by Anita Hill, on October 14, 1991, the Standing Committee told then Senate Judiciary Chairman Joe Biden its previous rating of “well qualified” pre-dated the allegations, and it would find him “not qualified” if they were proved true. But the Committee conceded and Thomas was confirmed the next day.

The unimpressive track record of the ABA Standing Committee’s ratings raises the question, what does it even stand for? It won’t matter, once again, because Democrats are on track to confirm Ketanji Brown Jackson before the April 8th recess.

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