The American Bar Association hs been reviewing proposed judges’ qualifications for decades. The President nominates a federal judge, and the ABA reviews and assigns a rating. For the first time since 2006, it has publicly rated a judge “not qualified.” It found Leonard Steven Grasz, a Nebraska lawyer, unqualified for the the position of judge on the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. The ABA’s standing committee found that it did not believe Mr. Grasz could set aside a “passionately held social agenda” to respect precedent, including Roe v. Wade. See ABA Bar Journal report here and here.
Some senators, such as Ted Cruz, respond that the ABA is a liberal advocacy organization. Cough Cough. No, not quite. The ABA is composed of hundreds of volunteer lawyers who’s serve in various capacities. The ABA is composed of dozens of various volunteer committees and organizations. Yes, some activities or committees of the ABA are more liberal than others. But, the standing committee on judicial nominations is not and never has been. It is a nonpartisan committee. It is unfortunately a reflection of these very partisan times that the President has been nominating some extremist judges.
The standing committee on judicial nominations has assigned four not qualified ratios so far this year out of 53 nominations. The ABA standing committee has found other judges not qualified in years past, but sometimes, those nominations were withdrawn and the “not qualified” rating was not made public.This is the first time since 2006 that the “not qualified” rating has been made public, not just with Mr. Grasz but with three other nominations. Ultimately, it will be the American public who will suffer when they have to appear in front of marginal judges.