Wednesday, May 10, 2006

White House: For ABA qualified rating before being against it.

Today the ABA rated President Bush's nominee for the 5th circuit, Michael Wallace, as unqualified. Of course the White House reaction to this was to disagree and reject the ABA rating.

A quick scan of previous reactions to ABA ratings of high profile judges demonstrates what can only be considered a long standing track record of support from the administration for the findings of the ABA. Consider this statement by President Bush regarding the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito on January 9, 2006: (warning, clicking that link, and every link following in this post, may prove costly to your right to privacy, as it loads a page hosted by, and we all know how concerned they have been about your privacy lately)
Sam Alito is eminently qualified to be a member of the bench. I'm not the only person who feels that way -- the American Bar Association looked at his record, looked at his opinions, looked at his temperament, and came to the same conclusion, that he is well qualified to be a Supreme Court judge.
One of the best resources for tracking official White House blather on Judicial nominations is the official judicial nominations page at The first headline for May 8th reads: Setting the Record Straight: The ABA Finds Brett Kavanaugh Is "Indeed Qualified to Serve on the Federal Bench" Reading the link provided, one finds a lengthy exposition that supposedly corrects an A.P. story that is headlined "ABA Downgrades Rating For White House Aide From Well-Qualified To Qualified." Of course the A.P. story is correct, and the White House is apparently setting the record straight on an already accurate record. But the point of all this is to show how important the White House finds ABA ratings.

Here is an official statement by the President on the nominations of Justice Priscilla Owen and Judge Terry Boyle, given to the senate on May 9, 2005.
Four years ago today I nominated Justice Priscilla Owen and Judge Terry Boyle to serve on the Federal courts of appeals. Four years later, neither has received an up-or-down vote in the Senate. Both have been rated well-qualified by the American Bar Association, the highest ABA rating a judicial nominee can receive.
Note how the oft repeated "up or down vote" talking point is swiftly followed with the ABA qualification talking point. This WAS a classic reprise of Republican judicial nominee talking point 101, until the wingnuts destroyed Myers without an up or down vote, and now the White House has suddenly decided that the ABA isn't really in tune after all because they finally have rejected a nominee.

I'm certain I could spend the next couple of hours going through the White House archives and dredge up dozens of other examples of Bush/administration toady use of ABA ratings to pump up the nomination of these judges. But I think the point has been made sufficiently.

That then is the true state of affairs in this administration. As is the case with every other issue, consistency and integrity are secondary to political expediency. If the ABA rates your nominees as qualified or well qualified, then let us trumpet the ABA ratings. The fact that Mr. Wallace is the very 1st nominee to be rated unqualified by the ABA should indicate that this is hardly a bunch of lefty lawyer types who have it in for Bush. Yet the one time that the ABA finds a nominee not qualified, they are wrong and should not be listened to. How disingenuous is that?

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