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The American Bar Association’s unanimous “not qualified” rating for Michael Wallace, the Mississippi lawyer nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, has sent Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) into a tizzy. In an Aug. 7 letter, Specter demanded that the ABA “immediately revoke its �Not Qualified’ rating . . . and begin a new review process.” Such unanimous “not qualified” ratings are extremely rare, but the ABA, in a written summary of its decision, noted that it arrived at its conclusion after interviewing 69 lawyers and judges. While applauding Wallace’s professional credentials — Harvard College, the University of Virginia School of Law, clerk to then-Associate Justice William Rehnquist — and his integrity, the ABA assailed his judicial temperament, including allegations of racial bias. “A large number of minority lawyers stated that Mr. Wallace has on occasion been particularly disrespectful to them and often did not treat them as equals or peers in the profession,” the report said. Meanwhile, five controversial circuit court nominees, including Wallace, Pentagon general counsel William Haynes II, and Terrence Boyle, were sent back to the White House in accordance with a Senate rule that allows nominations to be returned if the Senate will be in recess for more than 30 days. The decision by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) puts the ball back in the White House’s court, forcing the president to formally resubmit their names to the Senate if he wishes to pursue the nominations.
T.R. Goldman can be contacted at [email protected].

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