The piece that I have at Cato Unbound starts this way:
Judges exert a large and growing role in our lives. The cases they decide cover everything that we do. Can the government ban the sale or rental of violent video games to minors? Does proving discrimination against a few female employees working for Wal-Mart constitute proof that Wal-Mart discriminated against all its 1.3 million female employees? Does the federal government have the power to determine who is a minister? Is carbon dioxide, part of the very air that we breathe out, a pollutant that the EPA can regulate? Can someone who brutally rapes a child receive the death penalty? Is the government able to use GPS devices to monitor citizens without securing a court order? Who can get married to whom? Can unions mandate that employees pay dues that go to political campaigns?
The list could go on. Those are just a few of the countless issues handled by federal judges over the last half dozen years.
Judicial confirmations have become much more contentious over time. Yet there has been little study of what personal characteristics make some judges less confirmable than others. Who are the nominees that make it through the confirmation process? Are they the brightest people who have the most detailed and sophisticated knowledge of the law? Are the most successful lower court judges also the most likely to get promoted to serve on higher courts?
Think that attending a top university and graduating at the top of the class is the key to your success? Not if you’re headed for a federal judgeship. . . .
Labels: Dumbing Down the Courts, op-ed