New book showing that the quality of the judiciary is declining over time

Dumbing Down the Courts is a critical read for anyone who seeks to understand the judicial confirmation battles of recent decades. Lott’s meticulous research demonstrates that these contentious battles result from a politicized process in which both activist judges and partisan senators are to blame. When activist judges abandoned their limited, constitutional role and usurped the functions of elected legislators, senators reacted by using political litmus tests in assessing judicial candidates.The surest fix to drawn-out confirmation battles is to ensure that judges adhere to their proper role: to apply the law as it is written.”
—Edwin Meese, former U.S. Attorney General

“John Lott provides a powerful critique, amply supported by facts, of the rapid deterioration of the process for confirming federal judges. As courts have become more political and government has grown increasingly intrusive, battles over confirmations have grown more intense and partisan, with the result, Mr. Lott concludes, that the quality of the judiciary is endangered.”
—Robert Bork, former U.S. Appeals Court judge and Supreme Court nominee

“This book is a serious effort to identify and grapple with the current problems in our judicial nominations process. Unlike the many partisan works on the subject, John Lott does not lay the blame of our current troubles on one party’s doorstep but demonstrates that there is more than enough fault to go around. Even those who disagree with the author’s conclusions will be well advised to read this excellent book.”
—William P. Marshall, professor, University of North Carolina Law School, and former Deputy White House Counsel to President Clinton

“The judicial confirmation process has become increasingly politicized on both sides of the aisle. The result has been increasing difficulty and delay in confirming presidential nominees. In this important study, John Lott marshals the evidence on this issue, that the modern confirmation process has affected not only the quantity but also the quality of federal judges.”
—Alan Sykes, professor, New York University School of Law

“Clear, thoughtful, and eminently readable, Dumbing Down the Courts describes and explains the politicization of the judicial confirmation process. John Lott is carefully non-partisan throughout: neither party comes off looking clean. Be prepared to be troubled, however— badly troubled. The book will leave thoughtful readers concerned— concerned not just about the degraded judicial confirmation process, but about the effect that the process has had on the quality of the courts.”
—J. Mark Ramseyer, professor, Harvard Law School

The book shows the quality of judges on the federal courts has been declining over time.  It also explains why judicial confirmations have become more contentious over time.  But the important aspect of this is that smarter judicial nominees have by far the hardest time getting confirmed.  Smarter Republican nominees have even tougher time than smart Democrats getting confirmed.  I think that some of the facts in the chapter on the American Bar Association in terms of exactly how they hide how really biased their evaluation of judges are will also be of interest.

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