Judicial Appointments

Judicial Appointments

As an electrician, when I make application for a job, the prospective employer wants to know the usual information; education, character through personal references, and professional ability from former employers. The disclosure of professional acumen is derived primarily from former employers and is limited to ability and punctuality. The object is to discover if I can accomplish the tasks expected of a master electrician in an acceptable timeframe. There is no extensive look at specific methods of mechanics or schools of thought concerning leadership, just a check to make certain that I can get the job finished on time and on budget, with the crew furnished.

Selecting a Supreme Court justice is basically the same process. The President picks a nominee and the Senate checks his or her education, personal references, and past public performance; then votes yea or nay. This scenario bears out in both the debates of the Constitutional Convention and in the Federalist Papers. In the minutes of a debate dated July 21, 1787, between Madison, Randolf, and Mason of Virginia; Pickney of S. Carolina; Ellsworth of Connecticut; Morris of Pennsylvania; and Gerry, of Massachusetts, the discussion centered on who should nominate, then confirm justices. Madison made the point that the President should make the nomination because he represents the whole of the United States, and that the Senate should, "…let a [simple] majority reject" after stating "that he [Madison] was not anxious that two thirds should be necessary to disagree to a nomination" (http://odur.let.rug.nl/~usa/D/1776-1800/federalist/anti20.htm).

Indeed, in the Federalist Papers Madison favors the third option that the judicial nomination should be vested "in a single man, with the concurrence of such an assembly [the Senate]"; behind the options that "the power of appointment" should rest, "in a single man, or in a select assembly [the Senate]". The use of words like "concurrence" and...

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