City Bar Finds Judge Merrick Garland Highly Qualified for U.S. Supreme Court

The New York City Bar Association has concluded that Judge Merrick Garland is Highly Qualified to be a Justice of the United States Supreme Court. The City Bar found that Judge Garland’s written opinions are characterized by organized, logical and nuanced reasoning, reflecting a mastery of a range of subjects and command of diverse tools of legal reasoning; that he demonstrates a strong determination to delve into the record in order to most properly apply the governing legal framework; that his cautious, deliberative approach and motivation to build consensus among his colleagues on a panel demonstrate his understanding and appreciation of the role of the judiciary; and that the universal praise from his judicial colleagues, law clerks, and litigants amounts to a strong endorsement of his judgment, intellect, fairness, work ethic and collegiality. In conducting its evaluation, the City Bar reviewed and analyzed information from a variety of sources: Judge Garland’s written opinions from his nineteen years on the D.C. Circuit Court; his speeches and articles; his prior confirmation testimony; press reports, blogs and commentaries; and interviews with his judicial colleagues and numerous practitioners. The City Bar determined that Judge Garland possesses, to an exceptionally high degree, all of the qualifications enumerated in the Guidelines established by the Association for considering nominees to the United States Supreme Court: (1) exceptional legal ability; (2) extensive experience and knowledge of the law; (3) outstanding intellectual and analytical talents; (4) maturity of judgment; (5) unquestionable integrity and independence; (6) a temperament reflecting a willingness to search for a fair resolution of each case before the court; (7) a sympathetic understanding of the Court’s role under the Constitution in the protection of the personal rights of individuals; and (8) an appreciation for the historic role of the Supreme Court as the final arbiter of the meaning of the United States Constitution, including a sensitivity to the respective powers and reciprocal responsibilities of the Congress and Executive. The Association has been evaluating judicial candidates for nearly 140 years in a non-partisan manner based upon the nominees’ competence and merit. Although the Association had evaluated a number of Supreme Court candidates over the course of its history, in 1987 it determined to evaluate every candidate nominated to the Supreme Court. In 2007, the Executive Committee of the Association moved from a two-tier evaluation system in which Supreme Court candidates were found to be either “qualified” or “not qualified”, to a three-tier evaluation system. The ratings and the criteria that accompany them are as follows: “Qualified.” The nominee possesses the legal ability, experience, knowledge of the law, intellectual and analytical skills, maturity of judgment, common sense, sensitivity, honesty, integrity, independence, and temperament appropriate to be a Justice of the United States Supreme Court. The nominee also respects precedent, the independence of the judiciary from the other branches of government, and individual rights and liberties. “Highly Qualified.” The nominee is qualified, to an exceptionally high degree, such that the nominee is likely to be an outstanding Justice of the United States Supreme Court. This rating should be regarded as an exception, and not the norm, for United States Supreme Court nominees. “Not Qualified.” The nominee fails to meet one or more of the qualifications above. In March, the City Bar wrote to Senate leaders respectfully urging them to reconsider their stated refusal to consider any nomination to the United States Supreme Court made by President Obama. Note: To ensure the integrity of the ratings process, the City Bar cannot comment beyond what is provided herein.