The Corner

Law & the Courts

The ABA Shoots Itself in the Foot

(Carlos Jasso/Reuters)

Conservatives have been all over the American Bar Association for its attack on Ninth Circuit nominee Lawrence VanDyke. (Here‘s a brief review of the situation.) In part that’s because of genuine outrage at the shoddiness of the attack. We’re supposed to believe that a former editor of Harvard Law Review who has been the solicitor general for two states is “not qualified” for the federal bench; and we’re supposed to believe it because of a not-especially-diligent review of his record by a political opponent.

But I think there’s something else at work as well. Many conservatives have been complaining for decades that the ABA has an outsized role in the judicial-confirmation process and uses it to pull the courts to the left. This is as good an illustration of that point as we’ve ever had.

The attack on VanDyke moved former head of the Nevada State Bar, Alan Lefebvre, to cut up his ABA membership card. At the moment, I’d say that the ABA has done more damage to its own clout than to VanDyke’s chances of confirmation.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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