Legal credentials while remaining distant enough to

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legal credentials, while remaining distant enough to avoid public prominence or controversy. Unlike early nominees with state judicial experience, recent nominees have more federal (appellate) judicial experience. Presidents began to see the value in prior judicial experience, not only in how it relates to the work of the Supreme Court, but also in the lack of public attention that federal judges receive. Relatively junior appellate judges, at least as far as Presidents are concerned, have become the ideal nominee. The public knows little to nothing about them, and if nominated before serving too much time on the lower bench, they lack a written record to condemn them. The current Roberts Court, sitting together only since 2005, comprises only former appellate justices. No other Court has included only former judges, and not enough time has passed to evaluate accurately the effect of such membership. No doubt, former judicial experience is valuable, but judicial experience to the exclusion of all other experience may negatively affect the Court in unforeseen ways. Scholars have long acknowledged the difficult nature of judging. The Supreme Court justices are special people who give up much to accept the job given them. They must leave behind close friends in the name of avoiding conflicts of interest. Justices must decide extremely difficult and often politically charged, controversial issues based on the excessively ambiguous Constitution. Such a job requires an unusually intelligent and talented
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73 individual, but the current confirmation process virtually excludes many qualified, potentially great, candidates. Given that senators on the Judiciary Committee and media journalists dig deep into a nominee‘s background, it is a wonder that anyone would subject themselves to such a process. The threat is that this process may fail to choose the great minds that the legal community has to offer, in favor of less controversial, mediocre candidates. If such a pattern continues, the Court may not have another great justice in the vein of Marshall, Story, or Taney. Currently, making it through the confirmation process is nothing short of remarkable. The current process almost requires nominees to be undistinguished and less qualified to be confirmed. An individual so devoid of controversy so as to have any chance of confirmation virtually had to make a conscious effort to avoid making any damaging decision, in legal cases or in life. Such a person almost has to make a concerted effort to remain a potential nominee from the time they graduate law school throughout their entire legal career. Unlike politicians, judges do not campaign for their jobs; they are a select few who are chosen for their qualifications. Rewarding non- distinct individuals with justiceships is counter-intuitive. This current trend threatens the makeup of the Court and threatens to diminish the public respect that the institution requires for continued success.
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