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The ABA Has Secretly Declared Many Obama Judicial Nominees “Not Qualified”

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by Justin Shubow
Posted November 22, 2011, 4:32 PM

The New York Times today revealed that the American Bar Association has deemed the Obama administration's judicial nominations "not qualified" both disproportionately more and in greater numbers than in previous administrations:

The American Bar Association has secretly declared a significant number of President Obama’s potential judicial nominees “not qualified,” slowing White House efforts to fill vacant judgeships — and nearly all of the prospects given poor ratings were women or members of an ethnic minority group, according to interviews.

The White House has chosen not to nominate any person the bar association deemed unqualified, so the negative ratings have not been made public. But the association’s judicial vetting committee has opposed 14 of the roughly 185 potential nominees the administration asked it to evaluate, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The number of Obama prospects deemed “not qualified” already exceeds the total number opposed by the group during the eight-year administrations of Bill Clinton or George W. Bush; the rejection rate is more than three and a half times as high as it was under either of the previous two presidencies, documents and interviews show.

That outcome has added a new twist to a long-running friction in the politics of judicial nominations. During recent Republican administrations, conservatives have made political hay of accusing the A.B.A. of bias against conservative potential judges. In 2001, President Bush stopped sending the group names of prospects before he selected them, so the panel instead rated them after their nomination. In 2009, Mr. Obama restored the panel’s role in the pre-nomination selection process, which dates to the Eisenhower administration.

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