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 Home > News & Policies > May 2006

For Immediate Release
May 8, 2006

Setting the Record Straight: The ABA Finds Brett Kavanaugh Is "Indeed Qualified to Serve on the Federal Bench"

     Fact sheet In Focus: Judicial Nominations
     Fact sheet Setting the Record Straight

"In 42 votes cast in the three ABA reviews, all 42 found Mr. Kavanaugh to be well qualified or qualified to serve on the DC Circuit. The ABA itself says that even the lowest of the three ratings is, in its words, 'a very high standard.'"

-White House Deputy Press Secretary Dana Perino
May 8, 2006

The Associated Press: "ABA Downgrades Rating For White House Aide From Well-Qualified To Qualified." (Laurie Kellman, "ABA Downgrades Rating For White House Aide From Well-Qualified To Qualified," The Associated Press, 5/8/06)

    But According To ABA Review Panel Chairman Stephen Tober, Kavanaugh Is "Indeed Qualified To Serve On The Federal Bench." TOBER: "This nominee enjoys a solid reputation for integrity, intellectual capacity, and writing and analytical ability. ... A substantial majority of the Standing Committee believes that Mr. Kavanaugh is indeed qualified to serve on the federal bench." (Stephen L. Tober, Committee On The Judiciary, U.S. Senate, Testimony, 5/8/06)

    Tober Himself Notes That "There Is No Bright-Line Litmus Test As To Whether A Nominee Is 'Well Qualified' Or 'Qualified.'" TOBER: "It is, at its most basic, the difference between the 'highest standard' and a 'very high standard.'" (Stephen L. Tober, Committee On The Judiciary, U.S. Senate, Testimony, 5/8/06)

    According To The ABA's "Backgrounder," A "Qualified" Rating Means The Committee Believes A Nominee Will Be Able To Perform "All Duties And Responsibilities" Of A Federal Judge. TOBER: "The Backgrounder also makes clear that '(t)he rating of 'Qualified' means that the nominee meets the Committee's very high standards with respect to integrity, professional competence and judicial temperament and that the Committee believes that the nominee will be able to perform satisfactorily all of the duties and responsibilities required by the high office of a federal judge.'" (Stephen L. Tober, Committee On The Judiciary, U.S. Senate, Testimony, 5/8/06)

    Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA): "[The ABA Rating Is] Just A Shading. ... He's Got A Very Strong Record." (Laurie Kellman, "ABA Downgrades Rating For White House Aide From Well-Qualified To Qualified," The Associated Press, 5/8/06)

    Brett M. Kavanaugh Is Superbly Qualified For The D.C. Circuit

    Throughout His Career, Brett Kavanaugh Has Demonstrated Legal Excellence And The Fair-Minded Temperament To Serve As A Federal Appellate Judge. Kavanaugh has an extraordinary range of experience in the public and private sectors. He has dedicated the majority of his 16 years of practice to public service as an appellate lawyer, a government lawyer, and an Assistant to the President.

    Kavanaugh Now Serves As Assistant To The President And Staff Secretary. He is responsible for coordinating virtually all documents to and from the President. He previously served as Senior Associate Counsel and Associate Counsel to the President, during which time he worked on numerous constitutional, legal, and ethical issues.

    Prior To His Service In This Administration, Kavanaugh Was A Partner At The Law Firm Of Kirkland & Ellis, Where His Practice Focused On Appellate Matters. Kavanaugh also served as an Associate Counsel in the Office of Independent Counsel, where he handled a number of difficult constitutional issues presented during that investigation. Kavanaugh specialized in appellate law and has extensive experience in the Federal appellate courts, both as a law clerk and as counsel. Kavanaugh has argued both civil and criminal matters before the U.S. Supreme Court and appellate courts throughout the country.

    Kavanaugh Clerked For U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, As Well As Judge Alex Kozinski Of The Ninth Circuit And Judge Walter Stapleton Of The Third Circuit. Prior to his Supreme Court clerkship, Kavanaugh earned a prestigious fellowship in the Office of the Solicitor General of the United States. The Solicitor General's office represents the United States before the Supreme Court.

    The American Bar Association (ABA) Has Consistently Rated Kavanaugh "Well Qualified" Or "Qualified" To Serve On The D.C. Circuit. The ABA has rated Brett Kavanaugh qualified to serve on the D.C. Circuit on three separate occasions. In other words, 42 out of 42 ABA individual ratings found that Mr. Kavanaugh is either Well Qualified or Qualified to serve on the D.C. Circuit. And the majority of those 42 raters found Mr. Kavanaugh to be Well Qualified to serve on the D.C. Circuit.

    Kavanaugh Has Impeccable Academic Credentials. He received his B.A. cum laude from Yale College and his law degree from Yale Law School, where he served as Notes Editor of the Yale Law Journal.

    Kavanaugh Has Offered His Legal Expertise And Personal Time To Serving His Community. While in private practice, Kavanaugh took on pro bono matters, including representation of the Adat Shalom congregation in Montgomery County, Maryland, against the attempt to stop construction of a synagogue in the county. Kavanaugh also represented, on a pro bono basis, six-year-old Elian Gonzalez after the Immigration and Naturalization Service decided to return him to Cuba.

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