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makes no sense to me
2005-09-14

Our process for placing a judge on the US Supreme Court seems heavily flawed to me at the moment. After Robert Bork, in particular, we've come to the point where the President searches for someone with no known record. That person then goes before the Senate Judiciary Committee where he won't answer any questions about his opinions, especially if they might pertain to cases that could come before the court. And barring anything unforseen, they get placed on the court.

Arguably one of the most important, longest lasting and most far reaching positions of power in the US, and only a handful of people know anything about how they'll make decisions. Seems fairly flawed to me.

And perhaps, the way judges are supposed to work, they do the right thing by refusing to answer those questions. But if thats the case, it is the duty of the senators voting to approve the nomination to reject candidates with no record. Only by reviewing the candidates judicial record, and perhaps law review articles, etc, can they make an informed decision. There is no guaruntee, of course. There are examples of judges who have shocked everyone with their departure from their record, but its the only valid mechanism we have to actually know what we're in for. But we should know what we're getting.

Listening to some of the testimony of John Roberts, he claims that every case is unique, and he can't comment on vague questions, and he can't comment on things that are likely to come before the court, etc. Being a judge, to him, means taking the context, the laws, and the precedents and the history and rendering an opinion. Except his opinion does influence his decisions. The Supreme Court is seldom unanimous.

Not that I don't expect Roberts to get approved. But we need to change how we're doing this, which mostly requires the senators to not accept this type of nominee. We need nominees with more judicial experience, so we have a record on which to judge them.


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