American Bar Association panel: Ketanji Brown Jackson is 'a great jurist' 'without any biases'

Ketanji Brown Jackson.
Ketanji Brown Jackson. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson received the American Bar Association's top professional rating, and on Thursday, several of the group's leaders appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee to explain why she ranked so highly.

The ABA Standing Committee does not recommend judges, but rather rates their qualifications to serve on the federal bench, Bloomberg Law says. To come up with Jackson's ranking, members of the committee interviewed more than 250 judges, lawyers, and other individuals who have interacted with Jackson in the courtroom, and also reviewed writings and public records involving her cases.

Earlier this week, several Republican senators, including Ted Cruz of Texas and Josh Hawley of Missouri, attempted to paint Jackson as being soft on crime, and D. Jean Veta, co-lead evaluator on Jackson's review, dismissed their claims on Thursday. "Notably, no judge, defense counsel, or prosecutor expressed any concern in this regard, and they uniformly rejected any accusations of bias," Veta told the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Veta said "one high-ranking attorney in the U.S. attorney's office" told reviewers they "vehemently" disagreed with the idea that Jackson is too lenient on offenders, and another prosecutor who has appeared before Jackson several times declared the allegation "absolutely ... not borne out based on my experience with her." Instead, Veta continued, the prosecutors "praised Judge Jackson as a judge who considers all arguments before coming to a decision."

ABA Standing Committee member Joseph Drayton said while interviewing people about Jackson, "we pressed hard, we asked questions of these prosecutors and these defense attorneys." What they learned was that Jackson's "intellect is simply formidable," Veta said. "She possesses all of the other important attributes of a great jurist. She is practical and intuitive and curious and courteous and always impeccably well prepared."