Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee are bemoaning their Republican colleagues' decision to hold hearings this week on two of President Trump's federal court nominees before the American Bar Association is able to complete evaluations of their records. But the ABA awarded Justice Neil Gorsuch with its best rating, and every single Democratic member of the committee voted against him.
"We're disappointed that the Senate Judiciary Committee plans to hold a nomination hearing for two district court nominees before the American Bar Association will be able to complete their independent nonpartisan evaluations," the Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats said in a joint statement on June 22. The statement, which noted ABA evaluations typically take five weeks, longer than the three allotted by the committee, called the ratings "an important part of" the process of "reviewing potential judges and ensuring they are qualified."
"Senators deserve the opportunity to take ABA evaluations into account as they review nominees, and the committee shouldn't hold hearings until the ABA has an opportunity to provide those ratings," the senators claimed.
Flashback to March when the ABA named Gorsuch "well-qualified" to join the Supreme Court, unanimously awarding him with the organization's highest rating. Nevertheless, when it came time for a vote, every single Democratic member of the Judiciary Committee ignored that evaluation and voted against Gorsuch's nomination.
So how much do they really care about the ABA's judgment?
To be fair, nobody argued the ABA's ratings should ultimately determine whether or not a nominee is confirmed, and both parties are guilty of changing their tunes. But given leading Democrats' past references to ABA ratings as the "gold standard" and their complaint about considering nominees without the ratings this Wednesday, it is fair to wonder whether they are more interested in using the evaluations as political footballs than serious recommendations. If the rating was so wrong on Gorsuch, who was endorsed by people across the ideological spectrum, that nearly every Democrat (and every committee member) voted against him as recently as April, why is it so important now?
In the Trump era, expect the #Resistance to find increasingly creative methods of justifying its obstruction.
Emily Jashinsky is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.