Supreme Court Nominations

ABA Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary reopens Kavanaugh evaluation

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Moxley Tarpley

Paul T. Moxley, chair of the ABA Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary, left, testifies on Sept. 7 with John R. Tarpley, the standing committee’s representative for the Cincinnati-based 6th U.S. Court of Appeals and the lead evaluator of Brett Kavanaugh. Screenshot from PBS.

The ABA Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary sent a letter on Friday to the Senate Judiciary Committee to inform them that they will be reopening their evaluation of U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

“New information of a material nature regarding temperament during the September 27th hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee has prompted a reopening of the Standing Committee’s evaluation,” chair Paul T. Moxley wrote to Sen. Charles E. Grassley and Sen. Dianne Feinstein. “The committee does not expect to complete a process and re-vote prior to the scheduled Senate vote. Our original report must be read in conjunction with the foregoing. Our original rating stands.”

The standing committee, which evaluates all federal judicial candidates for integrity, professional competence and judicial temperament, rates nominees as “Well Qualified,” “Qualified,” or “Not Qualified.”

On Sept. 7, members of the standing committee gave testimony about their vote to rate Kavanaugh well qualified. Sen. Lindsey Graham referred to this rating as the “golden standard” during last week’s hearing.

Reopening a judicial candidate’s evaluation process when new information comes to light is part of the standing committee’s routine process, explained in this 33-page backgrounder. The ABA Journal ran an in-depth article about the standing committee’s judicial evaluations in January.

Editor’s note: The standing committee process allows for the evaluation of nominees to federal judicial positions. There is no process for the evaluation of sitting judges or justices once they have been confirmed, unless they receive a new nomination to a different position within the federal judiciary. After Kavanaugh’s confirmation, the ABA Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary ceased its re-evaluation.

Updated on Oct. 16 to add the editor’s note.

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