Biden administration has the highest number of Article III judicial nominees with well-qualified ABA ratings in the last 30 years

President Joe Biden’s (D) administration has had the highest number of Article III judicial nominees with Well Qualified ABA ratings in the last 30 years with 165. President Donald Trump (R) had the most Qualified judicial nominees with 79. He also had the most Not Qualified nominees with 6. Including renominations, the number of Well Qualified nominees increased with each president since Bill Clinton (D), except for a decrease during President Barack Obama’s (D) administration.

The American Bar Association (ABA) is a nationwide voluntary professional association of attorneys. Since 1956, its standing committee on the federal judiciary has issued ratings for every Article III judicial nominee commissioned to a life term on a federal court. The committee rates each nominee Well Qualified, Qualified, or Not Qualified.

According to the ABA, the committee focuses on three areas in its evaluation:

  • Integrity: “…the prospective nominee’s character and general reputation in the legal community, as well as the nominee’s industry and diligence.”
  • Professional competence: “…encompasses qualities such as intellectual capacity, judgment, writing and analytical abilities, knowledge of the law, and breadth of professional experience.”
  • Judicial temperament: “…the prospective nominee’s compassion, decisiveness, open-mindedness, courtesy, patience, freedom from bias, and commitment to equal justice under the law.”

The chart below shows the ABA ratings for the federal judicial nominees from Clinton to Biden as of June 16 of their third year in office.

Of the five presidents mentioned, Clinton made the most successful judicial appointments through June 1 of his third year in office with 145. Obama made the fewest with 86.

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