Bench Memos

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Evaluation of ABA Committee Members—Preface


I’m going to begin posting information today on the partisan attachments of the 15 members of the ABA’s Standing Committee on Federal Judiciary, which evaluates all federal judicial nominees.  I will supplement and revise (and, if necessary, correct) this information in subsequent posts. 

Let me make clear at the outset that I am not maintaining that there is anything intrinsically wrong with partisan attachments.  The rightness or wrongness of an attachment depends on the cause to which one is attached, and that question will be beyond the bounds of my inquiry.  Nor should my comments on partisanship be mistaken as questioning the legal abilities of committee members (though in some cases I may expressly question whether the member’s abilities are a good fit for his responsibilities).

The relevant issue is whether partisan attachments make someone poorly suited to serve on the ABA committee.  Has the ABA selected committee members who can reasonably be expected to perform an objective evaluation of this Administration’s nominees?  Can they plausibly claim both the fact and the appearance of impartiality?  Given all the lawyers available for selection, what do the ABA’s choices reveal about its priorities?


Again, if you have any evidence bearing on the partisanship (on either side of the political spectrum) of the committee members, please send it to me at [email protected] and title your e-mail in this format:  “ABA:  [member’s last name]”.  If your information is from a public source, please include the appropriate URL or citation.  If your information comes from your own experience, please describe the facts with as much specificity as possible and make clear the basis of your knowledge.  I will keep your identity confidential.


Tags: Whelan


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