Thursday, October 06, 2005

The appointment of justice

After drifting through a wide range of blogs and news commentary pages there is one thing that completely puzzles me about the nomination of Justices to the bench of America's highest Court.

In all of the pages that I have seen there are two ideas that I consider fundamental to Justice.

    Objectivity - the ability to consider both sides of an argument fairly and with impartiality and understanding.

    Independance - the appearance and fact of holding the position and authority with no duty or obligation to any other person.

Yes, in the Senate selection process there is "close" examination of each candidate on "favourite topics" such as abortion. The purpose of the approach is to reveal any preconceptions and prejudgements on those specific topics. But does it go far enough?

Dave Justus 10/5/05 picks up on the idea with a quote from Bush himself -

''It's important that whomever I pick is viewed as an independent person from politics. It's this independence of the Fed that gives people, not only here in America but the world, confidence.''
DJ - This is at least as important as a supreme court nomination.

But that is the Chairman of the Federal Bank, not a Justice to the SCOTUS. I agree with Dave, but he misses the point in his next post on Miers.

So, tell me America.

What is it about your justice system that the qualifications for President of the Fed are considered more strictly than a Supreme Court Judge?


The Poor Blogger said...

In Dubya's mind, the job of the justice is not that hard. Strictly interpret the Constitution, rest on precedent, don't rock the boat. His nominee knows the law, and there is a history (in the US) of our Supreme Court Justices never having sat on the bench. (Which isn't to say I support her, though.)

The Chairman of the Fed, on the other hand, is arguably the most powerful person in the world, save the US President. A mistake on his part can shake the foundations of the economic world, and in the US, there is nothing more important than money.

The probligo said...

Frere Pauper -

That is the rationalisation that is being used. I understand the rationalisation.

I can not understand though, how it is that Americans do not expect the highest ranks of their justice system to be free of all influence including political patronage. All of the other points you raise I concede have their place.

There is now debate on this - as you have probably seen - under the heading of "cronyism". It will be interesting to see how much speed that argument gets. It is the wrong track in my opinion, but it parallels the point that I make. It is the wrong track because it is being used to attack Bush (who is only using the system in a way that it allows). It is the system that is at fault for allowing "crony appointments" and for not protecting the independance of the judiciary.

First and foremost ...

Remember the statue depiction of Justice with scales and sword and blindfolded? Why should it be that Justice is blind?

The Poor Blogger said...

I don't think the ideal of that statue is realistically possible. America thinks of itself as a nation of ideals, but we're really a nation of compromise. I'm not certain how one would structure the government in a way that would prevent cronyism. Ever since Andrew Jackson began the "spoils system" here, it has been a political tradition which has endured. This administration embraces it in particular.

So I resign myself to each administration packing the government and the courts with their own brand of people. There's not really any way to stop it. We elect the president and have to trust that s/he is trustworthy and will appoint trustworthy people. As long as they don't do anything illegal, there's nothing we can do but NOT elect them the next time around.