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ABA lowers rating for controversial judicial nominee as Senate hearing looms

[JURIST] In a reversal of judgment, the American Bar Association [group website] on Monday lowered its rating of White House aide and nominee to the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit Brett Kavanaugh [White House backgrounder] from "well qualified" to "qualified" [ratings, PDF]. A majority of committee members recommended Kavanaugh as "well qualified" when his nomination was previously sent to the Senate in both 2003 and 2005. Committee leader Stephen Tober said the change resulted from more recent interviews with judges and lawyers who questioned Kavanaugh's experience and inadequacies in his courtroom performance. In response to the ABA vote, the White House said Monday that Kavanaugh is "superbly qualified for the D.C. Circuit" [fact sheet] and argued [position paper] that even an ABA rating of "qualified" is "a very high standard."

Kavanaugh's earlier nomination in 2003 stalled over Democrats' concerns about his role in setting White House policy. Last week, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) [official website] said that he was considering a filibuster of Kavanaugh's nomination [JURIST report]. The Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled a hearing [JURIST report] for Tuesday to question Kavanaugh on the extent of his involvement in setting administration policies on interrogation of detainees and the NSA's domestic surveillance program [JURIST news archive]. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) [official website] has said he wants a full Senate vote on the nomination before Memorial Day. The New York Times has more.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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