Recently posted on SCOTUS blog was a very interesting article by Terri L. Peretti, an Associate Professor of Political Science at
Now, at first glance, one might suggest that this makes sense. If you’re trying to fill the position of a judge, why not hire a judge? If you’re hungry, you go to a restaurant, not a sporting goods store. This response, however, is much too simplistic for it ignores what the Supreme Court is, a branch of government, and assumes the Court is only in place for the sole purpose of issuing opinions in a vacuum. This simply is not the case. Its decisions are in real time and affect real people and can often create significant social change. To not understand this is to ignore the political realities and public perceptions of the Court.
Simply look at the partisan view of the Court today. Many people view the Court as merely a political tool for whoever happens to be in Executive office. The 2004 presidential election was dominated by fear of which party would be able to nominate a justice who would lean one way or the other – ignoring the fact, albeit, that despite any track record, it’s still very difficult to predict how a nominated candidate might vote once on the bench. The nomination process of Justice Samuel Alito was dominated by partisan talk and the implications of his judicial track record as opposed to his ability to write well reasoned legal opinions that accurately follow precedent. At the end, Justice Alito, who will serve a lifetime tenure on the bench writing opinions that affect all Americans, was met with a divided Senate, split along strict party lines.
Because of the partisan implications of the Court, the Court must be politically aware of the effects its decisions have, not just on law, but on policy and people of all walks of life outside of the ivory towers of the judiciary. Real world experience in the political arena often hones skills necessary to navigate these difficult waters. If court decisions are left to be enforced by political branches (Executive and Legislative) and received by constituents who are aware of such partisanship, it only makes sense the Court makes decisions balanced by reasoned law and political acceptability.
This of course is the point of the article, that occupational homogeny is unhealthy for the Court and unhealthy for