The American Bar Association Doesn’t Like a Pro-Life Judge. So What?

Opinion   |   Kristan Hawkins   |   Nov 27, 2017   |   7:49PM   |   Washington, DC

The American Bar Association is a voluntary professional organization of lawyers. Although the organization is open to all lawyers, it takes a hard leftist line on virtually every social issue. Rabidly pro-abortion since the early 1990s, the ABA has made no secret of its love for abortion and antagonism toward the pro-life position. In a 2014 volume of its ironically-named “Human Rights” magazine, the ABA published a screed by abortion-activist attorneys stating that lawyers, “can no longer stand by and let state legislatures eviscerate” abortion rights.

There’s nothing illegal about a private organization promoting views in favor of abortion; it’s a free country. However, there is a problem when that private group holds tremendous sway over who can enter their chosen field and block access to advancement. Consider that the ABA controls who can sit for the bar exam (almost every state requires a student to graduate from an ABA-approved school). Also, a problem arises when elected officials confuse private, biased groups with authoritative, accountable arbiters of truth to whom they should surrender their own power to think and discriminate.

This is what is happening in the Senate Judiciary Committee right now.

In October, President Trump appointed Steve Grasz to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Grasz was recommended to the president by Sens. Ben Sasse and Deb Fischer, both Republicans from Nebraska. The ABA “assessed” Grasz’s qualification for the bench by delving into his professional history and interviewing those who had seen him in action. If the ABA had formed its conclusion based on Grasz’s professional competence, its assessment of Grasz would have been relatively helpful and unbiased, according to former ABA member Ronald A. Cass, who wrote that, “The line between appropriate and inappropriate policy inclinations cannot be drawn with the same detachment as evaluation of professional experience and competence.”

Yet, the ABA did reach beyond a detached evaluation of Grasz’s professional competence by basing part of its evaluation on whether or not Grasz embraced the ABA’s own radical position on abortion. The organization deemed the nominee “not qualified” because he opposes partial-birth abortion.

As the former chief deputy attorney general of Nebraska, Grasz defended the Nebraska state statute prohibiting partial-birth abortion before the Supreme Court in Stenberg v. Carhart. Partial-birth abortion, or intact dilation and extraction (D&X), is a barbaric second-trimester procedure in which a live preborn child is delivered feet-first until the child’s entire body except the head is outside of his mother. With the head in the birth canal, the abortionist stabs the child in the back of the neck, killing him.

While the ABA would like the Senate Judiciary Committee to believe that opposing partial-birth abortion rendered Grasz a radical, Grasz actually stood for the values of a majority of Americans in defending the ban, proving that the ABA does, in reality, take the radical position. Sasse did not mince words when he told the Senate Judiciary Committee to wake up and stop being hypnotized by these radicals, saying:

Unfortunately, some of my colleagues on the Senate Judiciary Committee are apparently willing to hand over their voting cards to the American Bar Association based on the claim that the ABA is an unbiased, indifferent umpire that just calls balls and strikes… The ABA has no right to special treatment by members of this body. It’s pretty simple: If you’re playing in the game, you don’t get to cherry-pick who the referees are.

Sasse affirmed that the ABA is “absolutely allowed” to crusade for abortion and other leftist causes, but calls it “laughably naive” to treat the ABA as a neutral assessor.

Ronald Cass likewise noted that the ABA criticized Grasz for being “unable to identify the lack of objectivity that his personal convictions had created.” Cass astutely noted that “One can’t help but wonder whether the same thought applies to the organization’s own judgment about bias,” since the ABA has effectively deemed its own opinion on abortion — one that caused an exodus of protesting members when adopted in the early 1990s — a litmus test for judicial nominees.

The pro-life majority stands to be overruled by the fringe radical abortion crusaders of the ABA if the Senate Judiciary Committee does not wake up from its trance and relinquish the ABA’s stranglehold over its collective thinking process. This is even more true of pro-life legal students working with Students for Life of America who will find their opportunity diminished if the ABA prevails.

Each member of the Senate Judiciary Committee has a brain, a constituency, and a responsibility to consider the qualifications of judicial nominees as objectively as possible. No longer should the ABA’s biased recommendations be used to deny attorneys the opportunity to take a seat on the bench. The ABA must be put in its place if these nominees are to be given a fair and thoughtful chance at confirmation rather than censored by an organization that is neither elected by the public nor imbued with any powers to decide who arbitrates justice in our nation.