SUPREME COURT COMMITTEE
The mission of the Supreme Court Committee is to review and evaluate the qualifications of each Presidential nominee to the United States Supreme Court with an emphasis on laws and decisions regarding women's rights or that have a special impact on women.
Members of the Committee, appointed by the President of NAWL, consist of lawyers who are diverse with respect to the nature of their practice and jurisdiction. After review and deliberation, the Committee issues a summary evaluation consisting of a conclusion as to whether the nominee is well-qualified, qualified, or not qualified, along with a brief statement of the bases for the Committee’s Evaluation. Read the Committee Manual>>
October 10, 2020
NAWL finds Judge Barrett to be "Not Qualified" for the position of Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.
An extensive review of almost 120 opinions, concurrences, and dissents written or joined by Judge Barrett, as well as articles and books she authored or coauthored, interviews of over 40 litigants, former law clerks, former and current colleagues, and others who have interacted with Judge Barrett persuaded the Committee that Judge Barrett is “Not Qualified” because she has failed to demonstrate the requisite “commitment to women’s rights or issues that have a special impact on women.” Specifically, the Committee concluded from this research that (i) Judge Barrett’s judicial philosophy of originalism is fundamentally at odds with a commitment to women’s rights and (ii) Judge’s Barrett’s personal views on reproductive rights will lead her to support further restrictions on, if not the elimination of, women’s autonomy in their reproductive rights decisions. Read the full statement>>
September 29, 2020
NAWL objects to the timeframe established for the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on the nomination of Hon. Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court of the United States.
Since 2005, NAWL’s Supreme Court Committee has conducted a comprehensive review and evaluation of the qualifications of each nominee to the United States Supreme Court, with a specific focus on laws and decisions regarding women's rights or that have a special impact on women. At the conclusion of this process, the Committee publicly issues a summary evaluation, which includes a conclusion as to whether the nominee is Well Qualified, Qualified or Not Qualified. The opportunity to ensure that every nominee is accorded fair consideration is of the utmost importance. Following the nomination of Judge Barrett, NAWL’s Committee immediately commenced its non-partisan evaluation process, which will proceed as expeditiously as possible, consistent with a thorough and fair review.
As we commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment establishing women’s right to vote, we remain ever mindful of a history in which women’s voices were not heard and their concerns were ignored. The Senate advice and consent process must allow sufficient time for thorough, unhurried, and unbiased consideration, and for a diverse variety of voices to be heard. This process is vital to the public’s perception of the federal judiciary as a fair and independent arbiter of justice, and must not be rushed by political expediency, particularly where a lifetime appointment to the nation’s highest court is at stake. We urge the members of the Senate to establish a timeframe consistent with prior nominations for the United States Supreme Court, which necessarily must be sufficient to allow for a complete evaluation of the nominee’s background and credentials. Without doing so, the Senate cannot be properly and completely informed when fulfilling its critical responsibility to provide advice and consent. Read the full statement>>
October 2, 2018
NAWL amends the letter previously filed with the Senate Judiciary Committee in August 2018.
After examining his writings, interviewing individuals who have interacted with Judge Kavanaugh over the last three decades, NAWL found him “not qualified” under its standards because he failed to demonstrate the requisite “commitment to women’s rights or issues that have a special impact on women.” After considering the testimony provided to the Senate Judiciary Committee on September 27, 2018, the Committee also has serious concerns regarding Judge Kavanaugh’s integrity, judicial temperament, and overall fitness for the position of Supreme Court Justice. Read the full amendment statement>>
NAWL finds Judge Kavanaugh to be "Not Qualified" for the position of Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.
With respect to personal integrity, our interviews of several dozen litigants who had appeared before Judge Kavanaugh, former law clerks, former and current colleagues, and others who have interacted with him during the last three decades persuaded the Committee that Judge Kavanaugh has the highest reputation for integrity and generally demonstrates a sound judicial temperament. Further, the Committee finds Judge Kavanaugh to be supportive of women professionally, including hiring a diverse pool of law clerks. As to professional competence, our review of Judge Kavanaugh’s writings, which entailed a review of over 300 opinions, concurrences, and dissents written by Judge Kavanaugh, as well as articles and books he authored or coauthored, led the Committee to conclude that Judge Kavanaugh’s professional competence is consistent with that required for service on the Supreme Court.
Following this extensive review, the Committee ultimately concludes, however, that Judge Kavanaugh is “not qualified” because he has failed to demonstrate the requisite “commitment to women’s rights or issues that have a special impact on women.” Specifically, the Committee is troubled by key decisions and other statements by Judge Kavanaugh, which the Committee believes reflects a propensity to deviate from established law as it relates to the protection of women’s rights, particularly their reproductive rights. Read the full statement>>
March 16, 2017
NAWL finds Judge Gorsuch to be "Not Qualified" for the position of Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.
Consistent with the stated mission of the Committee, our assessment focused on Judge Gorsuch’s personal integrity, professional competence, and judicial temperament, with “an emphasis on laws and decisions regarding women's rights or that have a special impact on women.” Our review of over 500 opinions, concurrences, and dissents written by Judge Gorsuch and articles and books he authored or coauthored led the Committee to conclude that Judge Gorsuch has outstanding legal ability consistent with service on the Supreme Court. Similarly, our interviews of several dozen litigants, former law clerks, former and current colleagues, and others who have interacted with Judge Gorsuch during the last three decades persuaded the Committee that he has the highest reputation for integrity and generally demonstrates a sound judicial temperament. However, the Committee’s standards require review of each nominee under several separate evaluation criteria, and the prospective nominee is found “not qualified” when “the Committee has determined that the prospective nominee does not meet the Committee's standards with respect to one or more of its evaluation criteria - integrity, professional competence, judicial temperament or he or she does not demonstrate a commitment to women’s rights or issues that have a special impact on women.”
Judge Gorsuch’s writings in or about several cases that implicate women’s rights or interests caused the Committee significant concern. Based on those writings, in light of the quoted language contained in the Committee’s standards, the Committee finds that Judge Gorsuch, to date, does not have a “demonstrated commitment to women’s rights or issues that have a special impact on women.” Because such a demonstrated commitment is a pre-requisite for a nominee to receive a “qualified” or “well qualified” ranking from NAWL, the Committee ranks Judge Gorsuch “not qualified.” Read the full statement>>
February 24, 2016
NAWL urges appointment of woman to Supreme Court. Read the full letter>>
August 12, 2010
NAWL commentary on the appointment of Supreme Court Associate Justice Elena Kagan. More informatiom>>
August 5, 2010
NAWL issues a statement regarding the appointment of Supreme Court Associate Justice Elena Kagan. More information>>
July 6, 2010
Testimony of Patricia Lee Refo on the Nomination of Solicitor General Elena Kagan as Associate Justice on the Supreme Court of the United States. More information>>
June 23, 2010
NAWL finds Solicitor General Elena Kagan to be "Well Qualified" for the position of Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.
Based on an extensive review, the Committee is confident that General Kagan possesses the requisite intellectual and analytic talent, judicial temperament, and professional demeanor to serve on the highest court in the land. The NAWL Committee is equally confident that she will approach cases and controversies with a mind that is open to all perspectives and with an appreciation of the professional and societal difficulties encountered by women and minorities. For these reasons, the NAWL Committee concludes that General Kagan is "well-qualified" to serve as Associate Justice, which is the highest recommendation that the Committee is authorized to confer upon a nominee. More information>>
May 11, 2010
NAWL evaluates Nomination of Solicitor General Elena Kagan to Supreme Court. More information>>
July 16, 2009
JoAnne A. Epps, NAWL Supreme Court Committee Co-Chair and Dean of Temple University Beasley School of Law, testified on behalf of NAWL at Judge Sotomayor’s confirmation hearing. Dean Epps was identified as a majority witness.
For more information about Judge Sotomayor’s nomination and hearing details, visit the Senate Judiciary Committee website.
July 7, 2009
NAWL finds Judge Sonia Sotomayor "Highly Qualified" for the position of Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.
The conclusion, based upon Judge Sotomayor’s intellectual capacity, her appropriate judicial temperament and her respect for established law and process, has been reported today to the Senate Judiciary Committee. More information>>
May 5, 2009
NAWL urges appointment of woman to Supreme Court. More information>>
January 8, 2006
NAWL find Judge Samuel A. Alito "Not Qualified" for the Position of Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.
NAWL’s rating of not qualified from a women’s rights perspective is the result of its evaluation of Judge Alito's writings, including his judicial record. On those women’s rights issues that he has addressed, Judge Alito has shown a disinclination to protect or advance women’s rights. Our concern also recognizes that Judge Alito will be replacing Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who has been a decisive vote in a number of cases involving the rights of women and laws that have a special impact on women. Judge Alito’s jurisprudence in the area of women’s rights has not been restrained, as some have characterized his general judicial approach; rather, he has too often engaged in strained legal reasoning to effect a narrowing of women’s rights beyond the intent of statutes and precedent. More Information>>
September 20, 2005
NAWL finds Judge John G. Roberts, Jr. "Qualified" for the Position of Chief Justice of the United States.
The Committee has a continuing concern, however, based on gaps in information, regarding Judge Roberts's approaches to the full range of legal principles that are essential for the protection and advancement of women's rights. Although the Committee recognizes that it is unlikely to be fully apprised of a nominee's view on all issues of interest, there were opportunities to be more informative about his positions on women's rights, which Judge Roberts declined to take. The Committee also was troubled by Judge Roberts's unwillingness to comment on the role of the judiciary in reviewing national legislation designed to protect the safety and other rights of women (e.g., such as the federal Violence Against Women Act), despite being given a direct opportunity to speak to the issue. The hearings did provide additional information in several key areas. The NAWL Committee was encouraged by Judge Roberts's express statements that he has "no agenda, no platform," "will approach every case with an open mind," and that, as part of his judicial philosophy on equal protection, "distinctions on the basis of gender are subject to a heightened scrutiny." The Committee's view is that any other approach would have a significant negative impact on advances made over the last several decades in reversing gender discrimination. The Committee also relies on Judge Roberts's reaffirmation to the Senate Judiciary Committee, regarding Planned Parenthood v. Casey and principles of stare decisis, that Casey is the "settled law of the land," and there is nothing in his personal views that would prevent him from "fully and faithfully applying the precedent of Casey" or "from applying the precedents of the court faithfully under principles of stare decisis.” In the same vein, the Committee underscored the importance of Judge Roberts's statements in the Senate hearings that the Constitution's right to liberty includes the right of privacy, which is protected substantively and grounded in the liberty interests arising under the due process clause. More information>>