Dems’ Kavanaugh Resistance Waivers Before ABA Testimony

Lawyers' group has been viewed by the media and across the political spectrum as key qualifier for judicial nominees

Image Credit: Alex Wong / Getty Images

Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats’ relentless attacks against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh were scarce Friday, apparently thanks to the presence of the American Bar Association (ABA).

The ABA is seen by lawmakers across the political spectrum as an important qualifier for quality judicial nominees. Kavanaugh (pictured above) received the ABA’s highest rating after a comprehensive review of his professional record on August 31.

“Based on the writings, interviews, and analyses that comprised this evaluation, we concluded that Judge Kavanaugh believes strongly in the independence of the judicial branch of government, and we believe that he will be a strong and respectful voice in protecting it,” the ABA said in its announcement.

A top ABA official discussed the group’s findings on the fourth day of Kavanaugh’s nomination hearing. President Donald Trump nominated Kavanaugh July 9 to succeed the retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy.

“We concluded that his integrity, judicial temperament, and professional competence met the highest standards for appointment to the court,” Paul Moxley said. Moxley is chairman of the ABA’s standing committee on the federal judiciary.

“Our rating of unanimously well-qualified reflects the consensus of his peers who have a knowledge of his professional qualifications. And we reached out to a broad range of legal professionals including almost 500 people, and we conducted about 120 personal interviews,” Moxley said.

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Related: Kavanaugh Receives Highest Rating from American Bar Association

The ABA rating doesn’t look at political considerations but rather a nominee’s judicial record. The rating flies in the face of a fierce resistance that Democrats have mounted against the nominee.

Democrats and far-Left protesters in the audience have constantly disrupted the Kavanaugh hearing throughout the week while trying to paint him as an extremist judge who is a threat to abortion rights, minorities, and executive branch restraint.

But that resistance was nowhere to been seen Friday.  Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Minority Member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) was followed by other Democrats when she opened up by saying she didn’t have a comment except to praise the important work the ABA does.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) was the lone Democrat to question the ABA’s rating of Kavanaugh. His staff did an analysis of Kavanaugh’s record on the bench and found he aligned with conservative amicus brief submitters 91 percent of the time. Whitehouse asked Moxley if the ABA cross-referenced the parties in his cases to see if there was a pattern.

“The reason I ask about that, to be totally upfront about it, as we showed earlier, when certain amici come before the D.C. Circuit, amici who are associated with and funded by very powerful, very wealthy, right-wing interest, they seem to have better than 90 percent win rate in front of this particular judge,” Whitehouse said.

Related: Judiciary Chairman Grassley Loses Control of Kavanaugh Hearing

Moxley answered that they didn’t do an analysis like that but were happy to go back to their reading groups to see what could be done.  Whitehouse admitted they might not have time for such a review before a vote but would consider the offer.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) didn’t go after the nominee but restated the Democrats’ frequent claims that Trump should not be allowed to nominate a Supreme Court justice.

Blumenthal asked Moxley if he thinks Trump’s alleged attacks on the independence of the court threatens the integrity of the federal judiciary. Moxley agreed that attacks by public officials undermine the courts.

The ABA standing committee bases its rating system for judicial nominees on being well-qualified, qualified, or not qualified. The ABA released the rating in a list that included other pending nominees Trump has put forward.

Kavanaugh received the same well-qualified rating when former President George W. Bush nominated him to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in 2006.

A Quinnipiac University poll found that 44 percent of voters support Kavanaugh’s nomination, while 39 percent oppose him. The survey was conducted from August 9 to 13.

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