Like Trump, Biden asks ABA to start judicial ratings process after nominations are made

  • Print

multiple gavels

Image from Shutterstock.com.

The ABA’s Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary will continue to review nominees to the federal courts, and the process will continue to take place after the nominations are made.

The Senate Judiciary Committee and the Biden administration have made clear that the evaluations are a valuable part of the nomination process, according to ABA President Patricia Lee Refo.

She commented in response to a Washington Post report that President Joe Biden is asking the ABA to start evaluations after he makes judicial nominations, rather than before, in a quest to speed up the confirmation process.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower first invited the ABA into the nomination process in 1953. Since then, every president, except for former Presidents George W. Bush and Donald Trump, has asked the ABA to evaluate nominees before their nominations. During the Bush and Trump administrations, the ABA standing committee conducted ratings after nomination but before action by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The ABA was told Friday that the process used by the Trump administration will continue.

The standing committee evaluates judicial nominees based on professional competence, integrity and judicial temperament. The reviews are based on interviews with the nominees and their peers, as well as reviews of public records and personal writings. Refo described the process as “unique, fair and nonpartisan.”

The ABA is the only organization that conducts detailed peer review of all federal judicial nominees, Refo pointed out.

Refo said the standing committee reviews “help assure the quality of our courts and our system of justice and have done much to instill public confidence and trust in the judiciary. The American Bar Association looks forward to continuing to work with the White House and the United States Senate to ensure a strong federal judiciary.”

Trump appointed 54 of the nation’s federal appellate judges during his four years in office, just one judge short of the number appointed by former President Barack Obama in his two terms. Currently, at least five appellate judgeships will need to be filled, and more could open up with retirements and judges taking senior status, according to the Washington Post.

There are more than 60 judicial vacancies in the federal courts, including vacancies created by retirement or senior status announcements by more than a dozen judges, according to the Washing Post.

There is also the potential for a U.S. Supreme Court retirement by Justice Stephen G. Breyer, who is the high court’s oldest justice at age 82, according to the Washington Post. If he gets a chance to make a nomination, Biden has vowed to fill the vacancy with a Black woman.

Give us feedback, share a story tip or update, or report an error.