Law & the Courts

American Bar Association Backs Kavanaugh Despite Previous Letter to the Contrary

Demonstrators protest against Brett Kavanaugh in front of the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C, September 24, 2018 (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

The American Bar Association (ABA) has clarified its position regarding the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, explaining in a letter on Friday that a previous letter urging the Senate to delay his confirmation had not been reviewed by the relevant committee prior to its release.

The chairman for the American Bar Association Standing Committee, the body tasked with evaluating the qualifications of judges, said that he was not given an opportunity to review the letter sent by the ABA president on Thursday, urging that the confirmation be delayed.

“The Committee conducts non-partisan, non-ideological, and confidential peer review of federal judicial nominees. The ABA’s rating for Judge Kavanaugh is not affected by Mr. [Robert] Carlson’s letter,” committee chairman Paul Mosley wrote to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

ABA president Carlson’s letter, sent on Thursday evening following the testimony of Kavanaugh and his accuser Christine Blasey Ford, seemed to reverse the ABA’s previous endorsement of the confirmation, instead calling for a delay until the FBI investigated the allegations of sexual assault.

“Each appointment to our nation’s Highest Court (as with all others) is simply too important to rush to a vote,” Carlson said in that letter. “Deciding to proceed without conducting additional investigation would not only have a lasting impact on the Senate’s reputation, but it will also negatively affect the great trust necessary for the American people to have in the Supreme Court.”

Democrats on the Judiciary Committee cited Carlson’s letter during a Friday morning hearing as they called for an FBI investigation.

The committee voted 11-10 along party lines to move the confirmation to the Senate floor, but Republicans, spurred by the demands of Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona, committed to delaying the final confirmation vote for one week to allow for an FBI investigation of limited scope.

President Trump ordered the investigation on Saturday at the behest of Republican leadership.

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