- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 23, 2017

The American Bar Association said Thursday that Judge Neil Gorsuch would bring an important voice for protecting judicial independence to the Supreme Court, giving him the strongest “affirmative endorsement” that the bar can award.

Nancy Degan, chair of ABA’s standing committee, told the senators that the judge earned a “well qualified” rating from her group.

She also gave the judge a fervent endorsement as a defender of judicial independence — a major concern for Democrats, who say they fear Judge Gorsuch wouldn’t be willing to rule against President Trump.

“We predict that he will be a strong but respectful voice in protecting it,” Ms. Degan said.

To merit the “well qualified” rating, the nominee must have “outstanding legal ability and exceptional breadth of experience, and meet the very highest standards of integrity, professional competence and judicial temperament.”

For years the ABA’s rating was considered the “gold standard” by Democrats for evaluating court picks, but they have fallen away from that yardstick for Judge Gorsuch, who is Mr. Trump’s pick to fill the seat of the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

Twenty-six professors from the University of Pennsylvania Law School and Loyal College of Law participated in the analysis of Judge Gorsuch’s decisions and legal writings.

Ms. Degan said they also reached out to people who worked with Judge Gorsuch, lawyers that appeared before him in court, and to his childhood friends. All told, they contacted nearly 5,000 people and received more than 1,000 responses.

She said they found Judge Gorsuch to have “an excellent reputation for integrity,” professional competence and good judicial temperament.

• Alex Swoyer can be reached at aswoyer@washingtontimes.com.

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