What Does the American Bar Association Judicial Rating Really Measure?

18 Pages Posted: 4 Aug 2009 Last revised: 25 Jul 2017

See all articles by John R. Lott

John R. Lott

Crime Prevention Research Center

Date Written: August 4, 2009


This study reveals the ABA as systematically giving lower ratings to Republican circuit court nominees, although no similar bias appears to exist for district court nominees. The data shows how important it is to separate the evidence for circuit and district court nominees. This study fits in with my previous research showing that it is the brightest nominees who face the most difficult time getting confirmed. One difference with earlier findings is that the biases seem to be hidden and are worse than looking at the averages across administrations. For example, the oldest Republican nominees, who will not be on the court for long, receive the highest ratings. The reverse is true for Democratic nominees. Similarly, the research explains why Republican nominees tend to get their lowest evaluations from the ABA when the Democrats control the Senate. Another factor that stands out is that Republican nominees who have written opinion pieces suffer large much lower ratings than Democrats who have done the same thing.

Keywords: judicial confirmations

JEL Classification: K40

Suggested Citation

Lott, John R., What Does the American Bar Association Judicial Rating Really Measure? (August 4, 2009). Public Choice, Vol. 156, No. 1-2, 2013, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1443725 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1443725

John R. Lott (Contact Author)

Crime Prevention Research Center ( email )

PO Box 2293
1100 W Kent Ave
Missoula, MT 59801
United States

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