The Supreme Court Justices at the Bar of Politics

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3 Responses

  1. Corin says:

    It’s interesting that the de-politicizing of the justices comes as confirmation hearings are increasingly politicized. Perhaps justices are less political before the bench so they can get confirmed and then after to avoid their opinions being attacked as displaying a perceived bias rather than legal judgment.

    It appears that having political justices with confirmation hearings focused on substance, as in the past, showed the idea that justices could separate their political opinions from their judicial judgment. However with more political confirmation hearings (and legal criteria already known due to professionalization of judiciary), the line is blurred and the idea that you can separate the person from the judge is the casualty.

  2. Heller's Guner says:

    Another answer to this might have to do with the increasing degree of specialization within both our society and law. I think it was more common in Frankfurter’s day for supreme court justices to have their main job experience working in areas other than constitutional law.

  3. TalkingHead says:

    I think too the more recent trend of seeking SCOTUS appointees from the U.S. Courts of Appeals has had some effect on the perception or the reality of less politically active justices. The jobs of Black, Frankfurter, Jackson, and Douglas immediately prior to their appointments to the SCOTUS were U.S. senator, HLS law professor, U.S. attorney general, and chairman of the SEC, respectively. It will be interesting to see whether Kagan looks more like these older justices than here colleagues.

    Were they nominated today, I doubt Black would be confirmed due to his KKK membership and question whether Douglas could have been either — especially if there was anything in his past like his post-confirmation attempted sexual assault of a flight attendant in chambers.