Leftist Lexicon Word of the Week

If you heard a loud cheer this past week, it was the sound of airline passengers cheering as they found out the federal mandate on wearing masks on airplanes and other forms of public transportation got lifted. Afterwards, however, you heard the sound of Leftists heads exploding as they tried to explain why it was a bad thing to let people choose whether to wear masks.

And they found out the judge in question was a Trump appointee who had been ranked as “not qualified” by the American Bar Association. That, along with the gross mischaracterization of the ruling a “a judge with no medical experience ruling on a medical matter,” became the talking point to discredit the ruling without actually taking the time to, you know, read it. But it does open up an interesting question: why would the ABA’s rating of this judge matter? Turns out, it matters a lot… and not at all.

American Bar Association

What the Left thinks it means – an important group whose ranking of judges is essential to determining their fitness for office

What it really means – a group whose reputation carries more weight than its actual rankings

For as long as I can remember, the ABA was the gold standard when it came to all things judicial. Their opinions could make or break a judge’s career, and often did. Then, over time, their opinions started to lean further left than a runner trying to avoid getting picked off on first. As a result, let’s just say only a handful of people take their rankings seriously, and oddly enough, it’s the same people who consider Paul Krugman a credible economist.

Let’s take the ABA’s ranking of the judge in the federal mask mandate case, Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle. They took the bold step of ranking her as not qualified because…they felt she hadn’t spent enough time on the bench. Of course, she has the experience of, you know, actually doing the job, so the lack of time on the bench shouldn’t be a disqualifier…except for the ABA and the Leftists who still listen to them.

By contrast, the newest Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson earned a “Well Qualified” rating by the ABA. And that was in spite of Justice Brown Jackson not knowing what a woman is because, “I’m not a biologist.”

Granted, we’re dealing with two different levels of judicial positions, but before Leftists can convince you this will excuse the difference, let me point out the fact the standards seem to be higher for the lower courts if the ABA’s analysis is to be taken seriously.

Which, at this point, we really shouldn’t.

Their rating system categorizes each judge as “Well Qualified”, “Qualified,” or “Not Qualified” under the auspices of a 15-member panel. (Don’t let the fact the Ninth Circus…I mean Circuit Court has 2 votes on this panel sway you.) A simple majority is all that is needed for a judge to get one of the three designations, with a super majority of 2/3 needed to add extra prestige to the designation. Nothing like that new judge smell.

Ah, but that’s where the ABA has gone astray. As the link I shared above shows, the ABA’s leftward tilt has created a system where even the most qualified judge with conservative leanings could be left out in the “Not Qualified” hinterlands while unqualified Leftist judges could get a “Well Qualified” rating with little more than a wave of the hand. As you might expect, this has watered down the ABA’s sway over federal judicial nominations more than a mixed drink at a low-end strip club…not that I know anything about that, mind you.

Adding insult to injury, the past two Republican Presidents, George W. Bush and Donald Trump, made the move away from relying on the ABA’s ratings as a determining factor for federal judicial appointments. This was met by Leftists with one part derision, one part hypochondria, and one part partisan screeching. Or as the rest of us call it, Tuesday. Even before Bush and Trump, it was becoming clear the ABA’s blessing meant jack shit to whether a judge would be appointed. That was bound to happen when your ratings are as questionable as roadside sushi stands in Death Valley.

When President Joe Biden made the move back to elevating the ABA to the judge of judges, it was quite the tell, but it was also an inadvertent admission of how its reputation has been sullied by, well, acting like a bunch of dishonest lawyers. (Yes, I know I kinda repeated myself, but still.) Of course, Leftists will blame Trump for the erosion of faith, but it’s a self-inflicted wound; Trump only poured salt, habanero juice, lemon juice, and pure grain alcohol into it.

And the ABA isn’t getting the hint. With a more critical eye towards actual qualifications instead of arbitrary benchmarks, we will get better judicial nominees and appointees instead of “check the box” style candidates whose external “qualifications” hold more weight than their curricula vitae. (That’s Latin for “boring shit academics put on resumes instead of saying they worked as a night stocker at Piggly Wiggly to get through law college.” Didn’t know ancient Rome even had a Piggly Wiggly, did ya?) That’s why I think the ABA needs a procedural tune-up.

First, we need stricter guidelines for the three designation levels. Just because a judge wins a popularity contest doesn’t mean his or her rulings aren’t shit. Here are my suggestions.

– “Not Qualified” should be only for those cases where the judge couldn’t follow basic jurisprudence with a highlighter and the spirit of Earl Warren helping them. In fact, this ranking should be reserved for those who shouldn’t even be allowed in court to defend themselves in a criminal case. Like Congresscritters.

– “Qualified” should mean the nominee has a firm grasp on the law and how it and the Constitution are interpreted. This should not mean he or she would rule a certain way because all the other judges are doing it. The judge has to show his/her work. Doesn’t have to be anything flashy or profound. Just competent, and God knows we need more competent judges on the bench.

– “Well Qualified” should be reserved for the truly exceptional judges, ones who craft well-reasoned decisions and/or showed scholarly traits that helped to advance our understanding of the law and/or Constitution. I’m talking the best of the best. This designation should be rarer than how Count Dracula orders his steak, and it should be backed up with evidence so we know the judge is truly worthy of the designation.

Next, I would make the ABA members who vote on the designations present their cases arguing solely on the merit (or lack thereof) of the candidates themselves. That means they are going to have to do their homework (or have their clerks or interns do it). I feel this can be done through a blind test where a judge’s ruling is laid out, minus any identifying details that would like him or her to the ruling. After study and deliberation, the ABA can then vote for the candidate’s designation. Oh, and if it’s determined one of the members voted purely upon ideological or political grounds instead of the merits, they gone and their vote nullified.

And one final reform. Until the American Bar Association can get its act together and start acting in a non-partisan manner, their opinions should be taken with a grain of salt. And I’m talking a grain of salt so big it will be open for skiing and snowboarding. Maybe attract mountain climbers and sherpa. That big.

Author: Thomas

I'm a writer and a ranger and a young boy bearing arms. And two out of the three don't count.

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