Leftists go crazy about the ABA rating for the judge who ended the mask mandate

The moment U.S. District Court Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle issued her order holding that the CDC’s mask mandate exceeded its statutory authority and ignored mandatory procedural requirements, the mask-loving left went on the attack. They didn’t attack the legal case she made (and it was a damn good one); instead, they attacked her. They did this by turning to the fact that the American Bar Association, when Mizelle was being considered for her seat on the Court, gave her a “not qualified” rating. Had the leftists bothered to read beyond the headline, they would have been embarrassed to tout that ABA rating.

The first thing I did this morning was to check my own Facebook page to see what the leftists in my world (friends from my youth in San Francisco) had to say about Judge Mizelle’s ruling ending the mask mandate. Two highly neurotic people were panicking about their increased COVID risk. I thought about sending them an article pointing out that mask mandates made no difference whatsoever but realized that they’d never believe anything, including hard data, from a conservative publication.

Others, though, unwilling, and certainly unable, to challenge the legal grounds on which Judge Mizelle reached her ruling, broadcast the fact that the American Bar Association concluded that Mizelle was “not qualified” for a position on the United States District Court. These tweets are representative of that attitude:

(Regarding Ketanji Brown Jackson, conservatives didn’t say she was unqualified despite her resume. Instead, they said she was unqualified because of her resume, which showed a deeply disturbing solicitude for child pornographers and other sex offenders. Jackson also seemed dimwitted when she professed herself incapable of defining a woman. And yes, I know it was a political call to refuse to define the term but it still made her look as dumb as a rock.)

Image: Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle (cropped). Public domain.

There are many more triumphant tweets in this vein and each reveals that no one actually bothered to read the ABA rating for Judge Mizelle. Well, almost no one. William A. Jacobson, the founder of Legal Insurrection, did read the ABA’s statement about its rating and he discovered something surprising: It’s very favorable, which is unusual when the ABA rates judges whom Republican presidents nominate. Indeed, the “not qualified” rating was a basically formulaic rating based on the fact that Mizelle did not have the preferred 12 years of experience under her belt:

A substantial majority of the Standing Committee has determined that Ms. Mizelle is “Not Qualified,” and a minority of the Standing Committee is of the opinion that she is “Qualified” to serve on the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida.

Our rating is based on the Standing Committee’s criteria as set forth in the Backgrounder. The Backgrounder provides that “a nominee to the federal bench ordinarily should have at least 12 years’ experience in the practice of law.” The Backgrounder further provides that “in evaluating the professional qualifications of a nominee, the Standing Committee recognizes that substantial courtroom and trial experience as a lawyer or trial judge is important.”

The nominee was admitted to practice law in Florida on September 27, 2012. This represents a rather marked departure from the 12 year minimum. A nominee’s limited experience may be offset by the breadth and depth of the nominee’s experience over the course of her or his career. Nominees with fewer than 12 years but with substantial trial or courtroom experience and/or compensating accomplishments in the field of law, can be and have been found qualified by our Committee….

Ms. Mizelle has a very keen intellect, a strong work ethic and an impressive resume. She presents as a delightful person and she has many friends who support her nomination. Her integrity and demeanor are not in question. These attributes however simply do not compensate for the short time she has actually practiced law and her lack of meaningful trial experience.

One more point: The case before Judge Mizelle was not an evidence-heavy case as one would find, for example, if she were trying a bank robbery or a complex contractual dispute. In those types of cases, because of the evidentiary matters and, if a jury trial, the issue of jury instructions, a bit more trial experience might be useful. The matter of the CDC’s mask mandate, however, was fundamentally a question of pure law and one that someone with Mizelle’s experience, especially her Supreme Court clerkship, was eminently qualified to handle. 

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