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This article uses two newly collected data sets to investigate the reliance by political actors on the external vetting of judicial candidates, in particular vetting conducted by the nation’s largest legal organization, the American Bar Association (ABA). Using these data, I show that minority and female nominees are more likely than whites and males to receive lower ratings, even after controlling for education, experience, and partisanship via matching. These discrepancies are important for two reasons. First, as I show, receiving poor ABA ratings is correlated with confirmation failure. Second, I demonstrate that ABA ratings do not actually predict whether judges will be “better” in terms of reversal rates. Taken together, these findings complicate the ABA’s influential role in judicial nominations, both in terms of setting up possible barriers against minority and female candidates and also in terms of its actual utility in predicting judicial performance.


Sen, Maya. "How Judicial Qualifications Ratings May Disadvantage Minority and Female Candidates." Journal of Law and Courts 2.1 (Spring 2014): 33-65.