ABA Ratings of Elena Kagan

Derek Muller writes, apropos the ABA’s coming evaluation of Elena Kagan:

Not that a rating 11 years ago carries very much weight today, or that the ABA ratings mean very much at all[:]

The first time ’round, back in 1999, a “substantial majority” of the ABA found Kagan “qualified,” and a minority found her “well qualified.” Very good, but not the kind of unanimous “well qualified” verdict one might look for.

Just for kicks, I did a little digging. The ABA unanimously found Souter “well qualified” for the First Circuit, and Alito for the Third Circuit. It unanimously found Souter “well qualified” for the Supreme Court.

It unanimously found Thomas simply “qualified” for the DC Circuit, then divided on his nomination to the Supreme Court, a substantial majority finding him “qualified,” and a minority finding him “not qualified,” with one recusal.

Roberts was unanimously found “well qualified” for the DC Circuit. Ginsburg, Breyer, Roberts, and Sotomayor were unanimously found “well qualified” for the Supreme Court, as was Alito (with one recusal).

I share Muller’s skepticism about the ABA’s ratings, but I thought I’d pass this information along as one data point.

I should also mention that much has happened in the last 11 years: Kagan is older. She has written an article that has been extraordinarily well-received; as I mentioned, it’s the 6th most cited law review article of the past decade, counting citations in legal scholarship. She has been by all accounts a very successful Dean, of a faculty that is reputed to be not easy to manage well. And she has also served (though fairly briefly) as Solicitor General. So I’d expect that the ABA would likely rate her well-qualified this time around.

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