Justin Reed Walker RESTRICTED
Washington CNN  — 

The American Bar Association rated Judge Justin Walker, President Donald Trump’s nominee for a powerful appeals court, “Well Qualified” Tuesday, a reversal from last year when the group said he was “Not Qualified” for his current seat on a district court in Kentucky.

The rating is vindication for Walker’s supporters, who have long argued that the ABA has a liberal bent, and comes on the eve of Walker’s confirmation hearing for the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

The Senate Judiciary Committee will take up Walker’s nomination Wednesday morning.

It also comes as Walker himself – an ally of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell –was deeply critical of the ABA at his formal investiture last March.

“I want to thank my nomination’s opponents, including the American Bar Association,” Walker said in March in Louisville with McConnell and Justice Brett Kavanaugh in attendance.

“Thank you for serving as an enduring reminder, that although my legal principles are prevalent, they have not yet prevailed,” he added. “And although we are winning, we have not won, and although we celebrate today, we cannot take for granted tomorrow or we will lose our courts and our country to critics who call us terrifying and who describe us as deplorable.”

William C. Hubbard, who chairs the ABA’s Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary, said in a letter Tuesday that when Walker was a nominee for the US District Court in Western Kentucky the ABA’s “Not Qualified” rating was predicated on Walker’s “then – narrower litigation experience.”

Since then, Hubbard said “Judge Walker has served as a federal trial judge.”

Hubbard said that “ordinarily” a nominee to the federal bench should have “at least 12 years’ experience in the practice of law” a majority of the committee concluded his “varied accomplishments as a law clerk, law professor, and now a district judge offset concerns about his years practicing law.”