Chief Justice nominees
RJLipkin at aol.com
RJLipkin at aol.com
Thu Feb 24 13:24:08 PST 2005
In a message dated 2/24/2005 2:07:14 PM Eastern Standard Time,
crossf at mail.utexas.edu writes:
Well, I'm a mite frustrated with the whole process. If this is a political
act, and it reasonably can be so characterized, what's the point in law
professors weighing in? Why should our political opinions be privileged over
those of any other American?
Two responses: (1) They shouldn't be privileged, but (2) though not
privileged, it might still be advisable or prudent if one wants to assess Jones'
professional capabilities to seek the advice of other professionals in the same
field. To insist on interesting and vital and political neutral talents of
judges is, I suspect, to embrace a rather wide dichotomy between law and
But many share that view. The point I wish to make is that even
rejecting the distinction between law and politics one might still have reason,
when assessing a judge, to ask those familiar with his work. The resulting
evaluation, though political, might nevertheless be illuminating to Senators
deciding how to vote. I say "illuminating." I could also say "interesting,"
"relevant," "helpful" and so forth. If endorsing a judge's nomination is a
political act, others besides law professors should weigh in; but that doesn't
detract from the value Senators and the public might derive from the opinions
of law professors. If, however, one requires "experts" to have knowledge and
judgment inaccessible to the public and other professionals, knowledge that
derives from some neutral conception of the judicial process, then there's no
point in consulting law professors or anyone else for that matter because such
knowledge is illusory.
Mark Graber is right. But it doesn't follow (nor do I read Mark to
insist that it does) that signing a petition in favor of a candidate is not a
political act. Nor does it entail that there are neutral answers to the
questions Mark poses.
Robert Justin Lipkin
Professor of Law
Widener University School of Law
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