IN SELECTING Assistant Attorney General Patricia M. Wald and Rep. Abner J. Mikva (D-Ill.) to be judges of the United States Circuit Court, President Carter has chosen well. Both are fine lawyers and well-qualified for the job. Their prior experience will enrich that important court by broadening the range of expertise of its members. Mrs. Wald has been deeply involved in local and national legal problems for 20 years, in particular those involving mental health, juvenile crime and drugs. Rep. Mikva will add to the circuit court practical experience about the lawmaking process, experience which is in rather short supply among its present members.
And the good news does not end there: The list from which the president made his two choices was one of the most impressive slates of potential judges we have ever seen. Put together by one of the new judicial nominating commissions, it contained the names of three professors, three judges of other courts, and one corporate executive in addition to those of Mrs. Wald and Rep. Mikva. Every person on it would serve with distinction in high judicial office.
This demonstration of the effectiveness of the president's nominating commissions is encouraging. It shows that the process of selecting judges can be improved impressively if other commissions will work as diligently at their jobs as this one did. It is true that the field from which this particular commission could pick was unusually broad; seven of the nine persons it recommended live outside the Washington area. But other commissions can put together equally impressive lists if they try. Indeed, the seven candidates passed over by the president this time provide those commissions with a place to start their searches in parts of the country far apart as Connecticut and Oregon.