Hearing tomorrow to decide whether Williams joins court

June 29, 1994|By Marcia Myers | Marcia Myers,Sun Staff Writer

A resolution is near in the long-delayed nomination of Alexander Williams Jr. for a seat on Maryland's federal bench.

The American Bar Association, which rates all judicial nominees and had raised doubts about his qualifications, has forwarded its conclusions to the Senate Judiciary Committee. A confirmation hearing is set for tomorrow morning.

Mr. Williams, the state's attorney for Prince George's County, was nominated for the U.S. District Court last August and has awaited confirmation longer than any other of President Clinton's nominees.

His supporters have claimed that because he is black and has not worked for a top law firm, the ABA review was biased. In recent weeks, the NAACP has announced that it was prepared to publicly protest the ABA's delay in forwarding a rating to the Senate.

Members of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People suggested that the ABA was stalling for fear of political backlash from a rating of "unqualified." In recent letters, the NAACP urged President Clinton to proceed with the nomination regardless of the rating.

"Finally, the president forgot about these crazy people with the ABA and did the right thing," said Leroy W. Warren Jr., chairman of the NAACP's Crime and Criminal Justice Committee. "We hope the ABA will come in with fairness and equity."

A Judiciary Committee spokesman said yesterday that he could not disclose which rating -- highly qualified, qualified or unqualified -- had been forwarded by the ABA. Some judicial candidates have survived negative evaluations from the ABA, but an "unqualified" rating usually is fatal to a nomination.

Efforts to reach Mr. Williams yesterday were unsuccessful. The chairman of the ABA review committee also was unavailable for comment. Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes, who recommended Mr. Williams for the seat, was "very pleased" that the hearing had been scheduled, a spokesman said yesterday.

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