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The American Bar Association doesn’t say much when it rates a judicial nominee, merely an abbreviated pronouncement of “WQ” (well-qualified), “Q” (qualified), or “NQ” (not qualified). The only indication about the reasoning of the 15-member Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary is a demarcation of the vote as substantial majority (10 to 13 members), majority, or minority. The committee has never been unanimous about Brett Kavanaugh, staff secretary to President George W. Bush who was first nominated for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in 2003, but his rating was slightly downgraded last week as part of a regular review. In the previous two reviews, a substantial majority found him WQ and a minority rated him Q. But last week, the ABA said a substantial majority found him Q and only a minority WQ. The demotion still puts Kavanaugh above two recently appointed D.C. Circuit judges, Janice Rogers Brown and Thomas Griffith (both majority Q, minority NQ). The change comes in a year of much turnover in the ABA committee, including the addition of Marna Tucker, liaison for the D.C. Circuit, who is a prominent Washington divorce lawyer and longtime Democratic donor. Tucker declined comment, but an ABA spokesperson says Tucker also handled the rating for now-Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito Jr. He was WQ.
Emma Schwartz can be contacted at [email protected].

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