From his record and from sources with whom I’ve spoken, it appears that Stephen Tober, chairman of the ABA committee that evaluates judicial nominees, is an arrogant lawyer of unimpressive legal ability who savors the stature and influence that his ABA role gives him and who is sanctimoniously protective of the ABA. A couple anecdotes help flesh out the picture.
First, I’m reliably informed that although his predecessor as committee chairman, Thomas Z. Hayward, Jr., led the ABA’s investigation of John Roberts’s nomination to the Supreme Court and prepared the committee’s report, Tober insisted on presenting the ABA’s testimony at Roberts’s confirmation hearing. (Tober succeeded Hayward in August 2005, and the hearing took place in September.)
Second, at the ABA’s semi-annual meeting in Chicago in February 2006, Tober visibly basked in the profuse praise that he received at a dinner for current and former members of the Standing Committee on Federal Judiciary. This dinner sharply contrasted with the much more low-key recognition that Hayward had received at the ABA’s meeting in Salt Lake City in 2005. Tober had his family present, and left-wing ABA president Michael Greco fawned all over him. When an award was presented to Tober’s wife for her diligent faxing, Tober’s son compelled a standing ovation by yelling to the audience something like, “Come on, people, get on your feet!” One person present said that Tober clearly seemed to regard the day as the greatest of his life.