Commentary

Bar Assoc. Quietly Dropped Kavanaugh Review as Soon as He Was Confirmed

Well, that was fast! In the aftermath of the circus that was now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing, the loud, angry voices have faded.

The accusations have all but disappeared. Aside from a coven of witches holding a pre-planned hexing event in his “honor,” the feeding frenzy against Justice Kavanaugh seems to have largely died out.

But all of that is not all that has disappeared. Law.com reported that the review being conducted by the American Bar Association of Kavanaugh’s “well-qualified” rating has apparently ended, as well.

An ABA official, who declined to speak on the record, told CNN that, “Per the published policy and historical practice of the Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary, once a justice or judge is confirmed, the Standing Committee’s rating process is closed.”

Not only had the ABA previously stated that it would review its rating of Kavanaugh due to the accusations against him, but it had also asked for a delay of the confirmation vote.

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“The basic principles that underscore the Senate’s constitutional duty of advice and consent on federal judicial nominees require nothing less than a careful examination of the accusations and facts by the FBI,” ABA President Robert Carlson said at the time. “Deciding to proceed without conducting additional investigation would not only have a lasting impact on the Senate’s reputation, but it will also negatively affect the great trust necessary for the American people to have in the Supreme Court.”

In a letter to the committee, the ABA elaborated on why it was asking for the vote delay.

“We make this request because of the ABA’s respect for the rule of law and due process under law,” the letter read, according to CBS News. “Each appointment to our nation’s highest court (as with all others) is simply too important to rush to a vote.”

And now, without so much as a whimper, the review of Kavanaugh’s rating has stopped. Kavanaugh is now a Supreme Court Justice and presumably retains his “well-qualified” rating.

Was the American Bar Association right to review its unanimous 'well-qualified' rating of Kavanaugh?

In an ABA document available on its website, the organization explains its rating system.

“To merit the Committee’s rating of ‘Well Qualified,’ a Supreme Court nominee must be a preeminent member of the legal profession, have outstanding legal ability and exceptional breadth of experience, and meet the very highest standards of integrity, professional competence and judicial temperament,” the document reads. “The rating of ‘Well Qualified’ is reserved for those found to merit the Standing Committee’s strongest affirmative endorsement.”

On Sept. 7, the ABA had given a report to the Committee on the Judiciary outlining Kavanaugh’s rating, which was proffered after a unanimous vote, and the investigation that went into him obtaining the vote and subsequent rating.

The report detailed the extensive investigation and noted, “The Standing Committee based its evaluation on the data received from its extensive outreach; on its own analyses of Judge Kavanaugh’s writings; on reports of the three Reading Groups; and on a personal interview of Judge Kavanaugh.”

Given all of this information, it seems odd that the ABA called for yet another review of its own rating of Kavanaugh, previously offered unanimously after an extensive investigation. It could imply either that something is flawed in its review process or that something else was going on.

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And what happened to their review? What information had they gathered prior to closing the review? Surely if they believed the rating was incorrect they would release that information, given how seriously they took the accusations against him, right?

But not a word. Crickets. Some on Twitter noticed, too.

It’s disturbingly clear that the entire debacle around Kavanaugh’s confirmation was little more than extreme partisan politics at work. Unfortunately, it appears that the actions of the ABA regarding his nomination were just more of the same.

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