ABA Rewards Alito With Its Top Rating

The American Bar Association (ABA) today gave Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito its highest rating — perhaps the best news Alito could have received on a day when liberal interest groups are unveiling plans they hope will derail his confirmation.

Alito, like Chief Justice John Roberts, received a unanimous “well-qualified” rating from the ABA, which Senators Chuck Schumer (D.-N.Y.) and Pat Leahy (D.-Vt.) have called the “gold standard” for evaluating judicial nominees.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R.-Tenn.) commented:

“Judge Alito is right on track to become Justice Alito, and today’s announcement of the ABA rating demonstrates what an overwhelming majority of Americans already believe, that Judge Sam Alito is unquestionably well-qualified to serve on our nation’s highest court. Judge Alito has the professional qualifications, integrity, and judicial temperament that America’s judiciary deserves. I expect the Senate to join together to ensure that Judge Alito receives a fair and civil confirmation process, and I’m committed to bringing his nomination to the floor of the United States Senate for a fair up-or-down vote on January 20th.”

Added Sen. John Cornyn (R.-Tex.), one of Alito’s most ardent defenders on the Judiciary Committee:

“It should come as no surprise to anyone who has reviewed Judge Alito’s 15 years on the federal bench that he has received the American Bar Association’s highest possible rating. Unfortunately, the hard left groups decided long before these ratings were announced that they would oppose his nomination. And some Senate Democrats—including some who have previously described the ABA’s evaluation as ‘the gold standard’—will now dismiss the rating as meaningless.

"It seems that for some, qualifications, experience and temperament are less important than adherence to a liberal ideology. And for that partisan minority, no amount of judicial excellence can ever substitute for a pledge from a nominee to uphold the hard left’s political positions. The Senate must reject that extreme view and instead give Judge Alito what all judicial nominees deserve: a full, fair hearing, an honest debate on the Senate floor, and an up-or-down vote.”

UPDATE: Ronald Cass, chairman of the Center for the Rule of Law and Dean Emeritus of Boston University School of Law, weighs in with his thoughts on the ABA rating:

"The American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary today unanimously awarded its highest rating of “well qualified” to Judge Samuel Alito to be a justice of the Supreme Court. The ABA critically evaluates judicial nominees on their integrity, judicial independence, competence, and experience. 

"While ABA ratings have been criticized frequently as biased against conservatives, this rating should put to rest any question about Alito’s ethics, independence, and capability.  Those who continue to oppose Judge Alito’s confirmation are the ones who are out of the mainstream."