ABA president Michael Greco has written a letter responding to the Wall Street Journal’s editorial earlier this week titled “An ABA Hit Job.” According to Greco, the strong animus that Stephen Tober, chairman of the ABA’s Standing Committee on Federal Judiciary, has displayed towards Fifth Circuit nominee Mike Wallace is insignificant because “the Chair of the Committee does not participate in the investigation” and “does not vote,” but rather “operates much like an air traffic controller.” Whatever that simile is supposed to mean, Greco’s effort to minimize Tober’s role is unconvincing (as well as contrary to Tober’s own grandiose sense of his role). In fact, the ABA’s own explanation of the Standing Committee states that the chairman “reviews the informal report with the circuit member” who has conducted the investigation and needs to be “satisfied with the quality and thoroughness of the investigation” before a formal written report is prepared and circulated to other committee members. This is a position of considerable clout, and anyone with the clear bias that Tober had should have had the sense to recuse himself.
Greco also states that those backing Wallace’s nomination should “listen to the facts before attacking the messenger.” But the ABA isn’t a mere messenger—its own remarkable “not qualified” rating of Wallace is the message that it has prepared—and it has kept its own story hidden, to Wallace’s severe disadvantage: The ABA has stiffed Chairman Specter’s entirely reasonable request for the ABA’s report on Wallace, it failed to live up to its promise to submit its testimony on time, and it has even requested that the Senate Judiciary Committee keep confidential until Wallace’s confirmation hearing the testimony that it finally submitted to the committee last week, less than 24 hours before Wallace’s scheduled hearing.
The ABA simply can’t be trusted in anything it says or does.