Judicial Experience Ought Be Required

Rivalry Side A | Politics | Candidates

Legal Experience Is Enough - Kagan

Rivalry Side B | Politics | Candidates

President Obama has nominated Solicitor General Elena Kagan to the open Supreme Court seat created by retiring Justice John Paul Stevens. Is it a problem that this nominee has no prior experience as a judge? Or is legal experience enough?

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Posted by in Politics / Candidates on 5/10/10

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Side A Comment

Kazzy - 5/10/10 @ 5:07 PM:
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"Kagan would become the only justice who had no prior experience as a judge. The other justices all served previously as federal appeals court judges. She was named to a federal appeals court by President Bill Clinton, but the Senate never brought that nomination to a vote.

That means Kagan has a smaller paper trail than other recent nominees since there are no prior decisions to scrutinize." (Source: http://tinyurl.com/2d6rq5y )

I'm fully aware that there have been Supreme Court Justices in the past that didn't have judicial experience but something about this makes me very uneasy. As the quote above states, it's pretty difficult to scrutinize a nominee's record when there isn't a judicial record to scrutinize.

Only time will tell but I have a feeling this story will grow some legs.
LIBERAL - 5/11/10 @ 10:19 AM: Rival | Side B
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I see you are aware of the fact that Supreme Court Justices in the past have had little to no judicial experience, but did you know this?

Number of Supreme Court Justices since 1790: 111
Number with judicial experience: 71
Number without judicial experience: 40

That means that since its inception into legal history that over a third of all Supreme Court Justices have had little to no judicial experience. The most recent without judicial experience was appointed by then President Richard M. Nixon, and later appointed by then President Ronald Reagan to Chief Justice. His name was William H. Rehnquist.

I do not believe that judicial experience necessarily makes for a promising Supreme Court Justice. As evidenced by a history of over 200 years men and women have proven to be exceptional Justices without the privilege of prior experience.

Prior judicial experience has not necessarily proven to be beneficial in respect to those who appointed them. Though a President should never expect to have a Justice in their “corner” it is however “expected” that Justices appointed by a particular President will more often than not make decisions based on their similar beliefs. In other words a conservative president should feel confident that an appointee would have a more conservative view while on the court. This has not proven to be true of several appointees. Take for example President Ronald Reagan’s appointee Sandra Day O’Connor. She was appointed for her more conservative views and also because Reagan wanted to appoint a woman to the highest court. For the most part O’Connor would render many decisions that favored a conservative view, but later would shift to render many decisions that seemed less and less conservative, even to her own peers. In 1992, after rendering many decisions in line with fellow conservative Clarence Thomas, Ms. O’Connor would render every single decisions opposite of him. A total of 28 decisions that year alone.

Prior experience is obviously not an indicator of whether a Supreme Court appointee will be a good one. Neither will it prove to benefit either view. In fact it doesn’t seem to prove much of anything.

Conservatives are simply upset that they don’t have a whole lot to argue in the way of prior decisions where Kagan is concerned, and are simply grasping for anything to oppose Obama’s decision.

By the way Kaz your first statement is entirely inaccurate. “Kagan would become the only justice who had no prior experience as a judge.” I don’t know who or what your sources were for the use of this statement, but I suggest you not use it again. There have been more than a few Justices who not only had limited legal experience, but several who never even practiced in the private sector. Some Justices were simply senators, governors, or other statesmen having no judicial experience at all!
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