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ABA Committee Finds Sotomayor Well-Qualified in Unanimous Vote

Posted Jul 7, 2009 10:10 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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The ABA Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary has found Sonia Sotomayor well-qualified for a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. The vote was unanimous.

The Associated Press has news of the rating, posted on the ABA website. The rating is based on Sotomayor’s integrity, professional competence and judicial temperament.

The last time the ABA standing committee rated Sotomayor for a judgeship, it found her well-qualified, but the vote was not unanimous, according to AP. Sotomayor is a judge on the New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., says the rating should rebut critics who say Sotomayor has been harsh or bullying on the bench, the Wall Street Journal Law Blog reports. The ABA informed the Judiciary Committee and Sotomayor of the rating today in a letter.

"The ABA’s rating--an evaluation of integrity, professional competence, and judicial temperament--should eliminate the doubts of naysayers who have questioned Judge Sotomayor’s disposition on the bench," Leahy said in a statement. "The confidential, peer-review evaluations of these professional qualifications have resulted in the ABA’s highest rating for Judge Sotomayor. When the Judiciary Committee hearings to consider this nomination begin next week, Americans will hear from Judge Sotomayor herself, and I have the utmost confidence they will agree with the American Bar Association’s review of her qualifications.”

The ABA standing committee's review process included interviews with hundreds of lawyers, judges and others who know Sotomayor. It also included an interview with Sotomayor herself. ABA President H. Thomas Wells explained the process when he announced the review.

The committee had also assigned two panels of professors and a third panel of Supreme Court and appellate practitioners to examine Sotomayor’s legal writings for quality, clarity, knowledge of the law and analytical ability.

Related Information:

ABA Journal: “Do Over: After an eight-year pause, the ABA is again vetting possible federal bench nominees”

ABA Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary (PDF): "Evaluations of Nominees to the United States Supreme Court"

ABA Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary (PDF): "What It Is and How It Works"

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