Sonia Sotomayor

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline)-U.S. Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor has received the endorsement of an American Bar Association panel less than a week before she appears before the Senate Judiciary Committee for her confirmation hearings.

The lawyers' group said Sotomayer, who sits on the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, is "well qualified" to serve as an associate justice nation's highest court. The rating is the highest the ABA gives to jurists.

Although most U.S. Supreme Court nominees have received the "well-qualified" rating by the ABA's Committee on the Federal Judiciary, in 1991, then-nominee Clarence Thomas was given a simple "qualified" designation.

"The ABA's rating -- an evaluation of integrity, professional competence and judicial temperament -- should eliminate the doubts of naysayers who have questioned Judge Sotomayor's disposition on the bench," said Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., chairman of the Judiciary Committee.

The committee begins its hearings Monday to question President Barack Obama's pick to fill the vacancy left recently by Associate Justice David Souter, who retired from the bench.

Sotomayor was nominated in 1991 by Republican President George H. W. Bush to a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. In 1997, Democratic President Bill Clinton nominated her to the appeals court post she now holds.

From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at

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