The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

ABA endorsement suggests Merrick Garland may be ‘the perfect human being.’ Republicans raise doubts.

President Obama and Vice President Biden walk out of the Oval Office with Judge Merrick B. Garland. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

The American Bar Association gave its highest possible rating to Judge Merrick Garland, President Obama's nominee for the Supreme Court, at a moment when the campaign to give him a hearing and a vote in the U.S. Senate seems to have stalled.

The White House touted the ABA's nod of approval as proof of Garland's "record of judicial excellence." Republicans countered that the ABA's earlier endorsement of Justice Samuel Alito's nomination by former president George W. Bush did not sway Obama or Vice President Biden, both of whom joined 25 other Senate Democrats in a filibuster to block him before he was eventually confirmed.

For Merrick Garland, a methodical life of ambition

To describe the ABA's endorsement as glowing would be an understatement.

“He may be the perfect human being,” one anonymous legal professional told the ABA in evaluating Garland's integrity.

“He will fit in so perfectly on the Supreme Court,” another evaluation raved. In keeping with the "perfect" theme, other lawyers praised his "perfect temperament" and described him as a "perfectionist in his written work." The ABA's endorsement was based on confidential interviews of private practice lawyers, law professors, and state and federal judges.

There is little indication that the ABA's backing will make much of a difference with skeptical Republican lawmakers who view him as less than perfect. A flurry of meetings with senators on Capitol Hill seems to have given way to stasis over the past several weeks.

Garland has met "with just about every single Democratic senator in the United States Senate" and "a number of Republican senators," White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Monday. "So this is the situation that we find ourselves in right now."