July 7th, 2009
11:51 AM ET
13 years ago

Sotomayor rated "well qualified" by lawyer's group

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor has been given the American Bar Association's highest rating for "professional qualification," a political boost less than a week before her confirmation hearings begin in the Senate.

An ABA committee that reviewed her record concluded unanimously Tuesday that she is "well qualified" to sit on the high court. The nation's largest association of attorneys has been evaluating nominees to the federal bench for five decades.

Sotomayor was last evaluated by the ABA in 1998 when she was nominated for the appeals court seat she now occupies. She was also rated "well-qualified," but the vote then was not unanimous.

Her confirmation hearings for the high court begin Monday, and Judiciary Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, applauded the ABA evaluation, saying it "should eliminate the doubts of naysayers who have questioned Judge Sotomayor's disposition on the bench."

The 55-year-old judge from the New York-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit would replace the retired Justice David Souter.

The peer-review process by the ABA focuses only on a nominee's "professional qualifications and does not consider a nominee's philosophy or ideology," according to the group. It says their "impartial evaluations" focus on integrity, professional competence and judicial temperament.

Past administration have quietly worked with the ABA to provide the identity of proposed nominees before they were publicly nominated. No other group has such advance access, but the ABA's role is unofficial.

The Bush administration had refused to consider or accept the ABA evaluations, saying the organization had given lower ratings for some conservative nominees, and that the ABA had publicly-held liberal positions on social and political matters. That complaint had been echoed by Reagan and Bush 41 officials.

The Standing Committee continued to rate Bush judicial nominees, but only after the president had made the choices public.

Justice Clarence Thomas was given a "qualified" rating - the middle of three standards - when he was being considered for the Supreme Court in 1991. "Not qualified" is the lowest rating possible.

George W. Bush's nominees - Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito - received unanimous "well-qualfied" ratings. Harriet Mires withdrew her 2005 high court nomination before the ABA could release its evaluation.

A letter from Obama's White House Counsel Greg Craig to Leahy Tuesday indicated the ABA had again gained its prior privileged access to the administration's nominee for evaluation.

Filed under: Sonia Sotomayor • Supreme Court
soundoff (23 Responses)
  1. good, vote on her

    get this drawn out process done

    July 7, 2009 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  2. Tom in CA

    ..., but the Senators of the Grand Obstructionism Party will hurl their mud and venom at her. This will increase the depth of the dark hole that they find themselves in.

    July 7, 2009 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  3. jgower

    the ABA's "highest possible rating" didn't get Judge Bork through; it is thrown out the window when special interest politics is involved - just ask Joe Biden on Supreme Court nominee interviews.

    July 7, 2009 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  4. Matt

    Just seat her. This is old news.

    July 7, 2009 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  5. Res ipsa loquitur

    So when do the party hacks start arguing that the ABA is liberally biased, despite that the ABA gave the same ratings to Roberts and Alito?

    You'd guess this would shut up bloated bullfrogs like Rush on whether Sotomayor is qualified for the job, but I'm not holding my breath.

    July 7, 2009 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  6. Henry Miller

    As far as the ABA is concerned, any lawyer who hasn't actually been disbarred is "well qualified."

    July 7, 2009 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  7. Al, NY NY

    so if the G-No-P members call the ABA notation biased because she gets a "well-qulaified" then Alito and Roberts are also unqualified since they got the same

    July 7, 2009 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  8. A Fireman

    If reverse racism is a qualification, then yes, she's well-qualifed.

    July 7, 2009 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  9. Fair is Fair

    Ooooooooooo... the ABA approves!!! YAY YAY YAY!

    What's the difference between a dead skunk in the road and a dead lawyer in the road?

    The dead skunk has skid marks in front of it.

    July 7, 2009 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  10. Mike

    Apperently those lawyers are not republicans.

    July 7, 2009 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  11. Sniffit

    @ Tom in CA, who said "but the Senators of the Grand Obstructionism Party will hurl their mud and venom at her."

    Judging by the smell, it's not mud that gaggle of angry monkeys is hurling...

    July 7, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  12. barry in las vegas

    Why would anyone be surprized. Obama is going to oppose any attempt to reform laws which would place a cap on stupid law suits.

    July 7, 2009 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  13. Republicans are the American Taliban

    Governor Mark Sanford also approves of Socialist Latinas with empathy ....any Republicans blasting him?

    July 7, 2009 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  14. Brian G, Sugar Land, TX

    My county has just declared an open season on lawyers and the lines for a hunting license are enormous!

    July 7, 2009 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  15. Ted Tartaglia

    She is probably the most qualified nominee for the Supreme Court in the last 50 years. The Republicans will whine and complain that she is an activist. Republicans really like activist justices; it's activist Democratic justices they abhor.

    July 7, 2009 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  16. jim

    wow lawyers approving of lawyers,,, every wonder why the last president that was not a lawyer was Eisenhouser,, wow,,,,why would a lawyer want a job in DC for such small wages,, wow,, makes you think,,, what do you call 10000. lawyers at the bottom of the ocean,, a good start

    July 7, 2009 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  17. Tom Paine

    Big deal. So long as you're a liberal who supports trial lawyers sucking the life blood out of the country, the ABA will certify that you're Duke of Windsor. Absolutely meaningless.

    July 7, 2009 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  18. Hugo

    I wonder if that Lawyers Group is a bunch of leftist lawyers from Columbia or Harvard pondering the meaning of is? It is obvious from Sotomayors comments and actions that she is race biased and it has effected her judgment in her cases. All Americans deserve Equal treatment under the law, if you have the money to afford it that is! White America just wants reciprocity of unbiased treatment under the law, even if it is contradictory to the biased views of minorities.

    July 7, 2009 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  19. sifto77

    why even allow comments on this woman? of course she will be confirmed–the left has a majority–they can do what they want–she won't have the respect of the supreme court judges. They just overturned a very important decision of hers. Not exactly starting out well with her peers.

    July 7, 2009 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  20. Terry from West Texas

    The goal of Conservatism is to prevent the nation from solving any of its problems. They are opposed to every action by government, unless it is to rescue our underacheiving CEOs from their own lackwit blunders.

    The goal of Conservative judges is to strengthen the controlling hand of global corporations and the wealthy class over our society. They even went so far as to overturn the 2000 election.

    Conservatism must be eliminated from our society. It is a form of intellectual alzheimer's.

    July 7, 2009 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  21. yuri

    But the GOP begs to differ. They have different types of benchmarks and yardsticks with which to measure Sotomayors credentials. Politics will be a large part of it.

    July 7, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  22. Sandy

    DIf they had actually reviewed her record, and counted the overturned decisions, there is no question that she is not qualified. She is clearly a racist besides. I blame Obama for this one, and I will be holding this against him next election.

    July 7, 2009 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  23. deb

    Well, thank goodness for that! As we ALL know, the ABA is only looking out for the best interests of the American people.

    July 7, 2009 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |