Hispanic National Bar Association Addresses New York Times Piece on ABA Ratings and Obama Prospects for Judgeships

Washington, DC – Yesterday, the New York Times published a piece on the impact of the American Bar Association (ABA) ratings on the President’s list of candidates for federal judgeships. The article highlights the number of potential judicial nominees designated as “not qualified,” the number of those with this designation belonging to a minority group, and the impact this has on the need to fill judicial vacancies.

“We commend Charlie Savage for opening a conversation on an inscrutable process the ABA relies on to vet candidates. His efforts reveal an important need for a more in-depth conversation about the disproportionately negative impact on minorities,” stated Benny Agosto, Jr., HNBA National President.

The ABA Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary evaluates the professional qualifications of all nominees to the Supreme Court of the United States, circuit courts of appeals, district courts (including territorial district courts) and the Court of International Trade. It is tasked with executing a peer-review process to achieve impartial evaluations of the integrity, professional competence and judicial temperament of nominees for the federal judiciary.

“With respect to the impact these evaluations have on the process, the ABA’s political influence in the area of judicial nominations is largely pre-textual; Senators inclined to oppose a nominee point to a suboptimal appraisal, Senators inclined to support ignore it. Still, it is an unfortunate stigma we ought to work through. HNBA is strictly nonpartisan, which extends to our work on judicial nominations. We commend the Obama administration for terrific leadership on the nomination of superior Latino judicial candidates,” stated Robert Raben, Chair of the HNBA Committee on Judicial Endorsements.