NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


January 31, 2005

Over the last few years, the American Bar Association (ABA) has made some strides to reduce its political bias, writes John Gizzi of the Capital Research Center. He suggests the impetus for this change is the impact of ABA's longstanding liberal bias:

  • From 1989 to 1990, when the ABA took a pro-abortion stand, more than 1,500 members left the organization.
  • Similarly, in 1992, some 3,000 more left after the ABA honored Anita Hill for her testimony against Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas.
  • In 2001, President George Bush pledged that he would not take ABA ratings into consideration for judicial appointments.

But it now appears that the political backlash and emerging competition have led the ABA to restrain its penchant for taking on issues far removed from the legal arena:

  • Recent ABA national conventions have enacted more resolutions related to professional rather than political concerns of lawyers, and the organization kept a low profile during the 2004 election cycle.
  • Presidential judicial nominees Miguel Estrada, Carolyn Kuhl and Charles Pickering all received at least a majority "well-qualified" rating and a minority "qualified" rating.
  • In only two cases -- Bill Prior and Claude Allen -- have Bush appointees to federal appeals courts received less than favorable ABA ratings.

Nevertheless, Gizzi says the ABA may have taken on too many issues beyond its professional concerns, thus leaving its primary responsibility -- that of providing law school accreditation, continuing legal education, and assisting lawyers and judges do their work -- open to competition from other legal organizations such as the Federalist Society and the National Lawyers Association.

Source: John Gizzi, "The American Bar Association: Trade Association of Litigious Liberals," Capital Research Center, January 2005.


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