Saturday, February 02, 2008

Justice John Edwards?

I'll be honest.  I like John Edwards.  As a person.  As a trial lawyer.  Maybe not so much as a candidate.  But does anybody really think he's Supreme Court material?  I don't know.  I guess he could join the ranks of odd people who left Congress for the Supreme Court, but that would go against recent trends in Supreme Court membership:

  • Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.: practicing lawyer, then D.C. Circuit judge
  • Justice John Paul Stevens: law professor, then 7th Circuit judge
  • Justice Antonin Scalia: law professor
  • Justice Anthony M. Kennedy: practicing lawyer and lobbyist, then 9th Circuit judge
  • Justice David H. Souter: practicing lawyer, then New Hampshire AG, then a romp through the New Hampshire judiciary (including a few years on its Supreme Court), then 5 months on the 1st Circuit
  • Justice Clarence Thomas: government lawyer and administrator, then D.C. Circuit judge
  • Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: law professor and women's rights advocate, then D.C. Circuit judge
  • Justice Stephen G. Breyer: government lawyer and administrator, then 1st Circuit judge
  • Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr.*: government lawyer, then 3rd Circuit judge

So--eight of the nine justices spent at least some time on a federal circuit court; the one who didn't was a committed law professor and highly respected as an academic.  The last Congressional justice was Sherman Minton, who represented Indiana in the Senate for six years during the Great Depression, just before he was nominated to the 7th Circuit.  Edwards--and Mr. Clinton, for that matter--has spent no time on any federal circuit, nor is he highly respected in academia.  Besides that, he's not nearly mysterious enough to even hope to get through confirmation.  So can we stop with this weird idea that popular politicians can be on the Supreme Court?

Then again--Chief Justice Earl Warren was the Republican Vice Presidential nominee in 1948, only five years before he was appointed chief justice . . .


*Does anybody else think it's funny that George W. Bush, who has the same name as his father, nominated two justices for the Supreme Court who also share their names with their fathers?

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