March 23, 2001
Read Chancellor Primavera's Letter to the President on ABA Judge EvaluationCarl S. Primavera, Chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association, on March 23 sent the following letter to the President of the United States. A similar letter was sent to all members of the United States Senate.
Dear Mr. President:
On behalf of the 13,000 members of the Philadelphia Bar Association, I join with American Bar Association President Martha Barnett to express my deep disappointment in your decision to end the ABA’s special relationship in evaluating prospective nominees to the federal bench.
Mr. President, it was Philadelphia lawyer Bernard G. Segal who first convinced President Eisenhower to accept this sound and objective process of vetting judicial nominees nearly 50 years ago. Mr. Segal argued that respected and independent members of the organized bar are exceptionally well suited to evaluate the character, temperament, integrity, legal ability and experience of the nominees in question without regard to politics. Mr. Segal’s argument is as sound today as it was then. Indeed, nearly a half century of uninterrupted service by the ABA’s Standing Committee on Federal Judiciary through both Republican and Democratic administrations has demonstrated the rightness of this course. As Martha Barnett has said: "The Standing Committee’s work has contributed significantly to making America’s federal judiciary the envy of the world."
Wisely, the work of the ABA’s Standing Committee will continue.
President Bush, we know that you recognize that information from a candidate’s peers on his or her professional qualifications is critical to a thorough and objective assessment. Accordingly, notwithstanding your latest decision, we call upon you to honor the ABA’s ratings of judicial candidates. Likewise, we are asking every member of the United States Senate to confirm only those federal judicial nominees that have been found "Qualified" by the ABA.
Fidelity to our justice system and the public interest demands nothing less.
Carl S. Primavera