The Minnesota Grizzly Bear

Roaring about life since 2009

Scalia gets it right…again

The history of the U.S. Supreme Court is as interesting and engaging as many of the personalities who have been appointed to the high court over the years.  Having a wide range of experience, especially in the legislative branch like former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, is desirable in the formation of opinions because experience in fields other than straight-up appellate matters gives you new ways to look at a given question. 

For example, on the issue of statutory interpretation how valuable would the voice of a former legislator be when it comes to questions of procedure and intent?  Or the experience of a regulator when it comes to administrative law issues?  This is the concern that Justice Scalia was voicing when he gave a talk to a small congregation yesterday afternoon.

[Scalia] said there were three justices with no prior judicial experience back then and today there are none.

Scalia said he’s concerned about the practice because “every aspect of your career broadens your outlook” so “it’s good for the court to have people of varying backgrounds.”

Scalia: Varied job experience needed on high court

Take a look at the histories of some Justices for what past experience means, good gods.

Oliver Wendell Holmes

William Howard Taft

Earl Warren

That’s just a list off the top of my head, but it’s impressive.  Even our Minnesota man, Justice William O. Douglas, was an SEC regulator before getting to the court. 

Is this trend of only appointing judges simply a coincidence, or a fundamental shift?  Perhaps both parties are realigning after the bloody Bork-Thomas battles, and focusing on using an extensive resume of specific experience to slide through otherwise-ideological nominees like in Scalia’s case.  Prove to the Senate that you’re so brilliant it doesn’t matter what party you vote for. 

Whether that is actually the strategy behind the move to nominate almost exclusively Federal appellate judges, I don’t know, but it sure makes sense.

Have it good,



January 5, 2010 Posted by | Scalia | , , , , , | Leave a comment