ABA President-Elect Forwards Association’s Message at American Constitution Society For Law and Policy Panel

WASHINGTON, D.C., Nov. 17, 2010 —    A bipartisan commission to evaluate judicial nominees in advance of congressional review is the recommendation that the _ President-elect Wm. T. (Bill) Robinson III will strongly promote on Thursday.

Robinson will join a panel to discuss, “The Path to the Bench: A Conversation on Federal Judicial Selection,” from 12:20 – 2 p.m.  at the National Press Club, 529 14th Street, N.W., 13th floor.  The American Constitution Society for Law and Policy is hosting the panel, which is open to the press and invited guests.

Robinson will promote the 2008 ABA policy that urges pre-nomination consultation between the president and senators on the individuals nominated for judgeships in federal district courts and courts of appeals.  He will also reiterate the ABA position in favor of bipartisan advisory nominating commissions for these judgeships.

“We believe that bipartisan screening commissions, while not a panacea, can reduce rancor, accelerate the process of judicial appointments and result in a broader selection field,” Robinson said in advance of the panel discussion.  Twenty-one commission-like groups are in operation across the country.

“We fear that politics is playing too significant a role and is contributing to delays in the confirmation process,” Robinson added.

Right now there are 23 nominations pending for district or circuit court judgeships; 17 of them do not have a vote of dissent registered in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The ABA deliberately does not specify criteria for membership on the advisory screening commissions — leaving it to the Senate to decide — except to recommend that members include lawyers and non-lawyers and represent the local community.

“We are increasingly concerned about the continually high number of judicial vacancies in federal district and appeals courts,” Robinson said.  “We believe this situation is undermining the vitality and independence of the federal judiciary.”

The other panelists who will join Robinson are:

  • Carrie Johnson, NPR justice correspondent (moderator)
  • Russell Wheeler, Brookings Institution, visiting fellow, Governance Studies
  • Rachel Brand, private practitioner and former assistant attorney general for Legal Policy (2003-2007)
  • Robert Raben, president and founder, The Raben Group, and former assistant attorney general for Legislative Affairs (1999-2001)

For an interview with Robinson in advance of, or following the Thursday panel, contact Stephanie Ortbals-Tibbs, 202/662-1091 or .

With nearly 400,000 members, the _ is the largest voluntary professional membership organization in the world.  As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.

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