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June 28, 2002

Scalia- Grill Judicial Nominees

Over in the Senate, Chuck Schumer has been saying that he will only approve judges who publicly outline their judicial views on a variety of subjects. The GOP has been denouncing this as interfering with judicial independence and nominees have said only silence on their views is appropriate.
...Well, Scalia, in yesterday's opnion promoting free speech in judicial elections (pdf), thinks the GOP's position is ridiculous. As he argues, a "lack of predisposition regarding the relevant legal issues in a case has never been thought a necessary component of equal justice and with good reason. For one thing, it is virtually impossible to find a judge who does not have preconceptions about the law." Oh yeah, a little bit of honesty here, especially funny since his colleague Clarence Thomas feigned amnesia on having any deeply held beliefs at his hearing, but still true.
...Scalia makes the deeper point that legislative and judicial candidates for office are really not very different in the United States because of the power of judges to "make law themselves" and "set aside the laws enacted by the legislature." It is precisely because people wanted judges to be accountable that in the 19th century, almost all new states established elected judges (something that probably would have happened at the federal level if amendments were not so hard to push through).
...Judges should be scrutinized as much as any legislator and, in the Senate, refused office when they don't meet the tests set by the Senate "electorate." Scalia was just making Chuck Schumer's argument.

Posted by Nathan at June 28, 2002 09:54 AM


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