Among the judicial nominees who won the ABA's desirable "qualified/not qualified" rating is Judge Richard Posner -- once described by archliberal Supreme Court Justice William Brennan Jr. as one of the two geniuses he had ever met. Others include Judges Frank Easterbrook, Stephen Williams, James Buckley, Jerry Smith and Laurence Silberman.
If there were a dream team of federal appellate judges, these guys would be on it (as would Judge Bowman, but for nagging questions about that ABA endorsement).
Clarence Thomas got an impressive "qualified/not qualified" rating from the ABA -- the lowest score ever given to a Supreme Court nominee. Meanwhile, David Souter -- that jurisprudential giant, plucked from a state court where he had been deciding pig trespassing cases -- was unanimously voted "highly qualified."
Finally and most acclaimed, the ABA ratings committee couldn't decide whether Judge Robert Bork was qualified. Four members voted him "not qualified." (The head of the ABA's selection committee then perjured himself by telling a Senate committee that reasonable minds could differ about Bork's qualifications.) Let's compare LSAT scores.
Demonstrating its eagle eye for ferreting out unfit judges, the ABA gave "qualified" or "well qualified" ratings to all three federal judges who were later impeached. So you can understand why Senate Democrats like Chuck Schumer and Patrick Leahy are upset that President Bush is scrapping a fine-tuned system like this.
In my judge's defense: 1) Despite the ABA adjudging him "qualified," Judge Bowman has never been impeached; and 2) Justice Antonin Scalia also got a "qualified" rating -- "well qualified" by the time he was nominated to the Supreme Court. (Keep your eye on that guy.)