Flaws in the Supreme Process

Article excerpt

Byline: Bill Constangy, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The integrity and strength of the federal judicial system is being compromised by advice and consent of the U.S. Senate misshapen by heavily politicized and misguided judicial selection standards. The rare phenomenon of dual simultaneous vacancies on the Supreme court has focused the public eye on the federal judicial system's flawed selection process.

The deformed process is the previously invisible catalyst ultimately producing public discontent with the judiciary. Reforming this process and its faulty criteria is the remedy to the frequent complaint that the judiciary is out of step with the nation.

Selection of blank-slate, legal eunuchs for judicial appointment plunges the American judiciary toward mediocrity. Lack of leadership, scholarship, conviction and opinion seem to be the prerequisites for U.S. Supreme Court nominees.

An extensive track record of legal writing and scholarship, deemed at one time the strongest indicia of solid grounding in the law, runs counter to the current demand for anonymity. Legal scholars and lucid writers like Oliver Wendell Holmes and Benjamin Cardozo would be summarily rejected because of the wealth of opinion revealed by the product of their erudition. Leaders like William Howard Taft, a former president, and Earl Warren, a former governor, would sink in the mire of partisan bickering.

A history of character and conviction is even deadlier in the current climate than a probing academic or trailblazing political record. The noble Sir Thomas Moore would not have a chance of making anyone's short list.

Ladder-climbing opportunists or faceless government bureaucrats have better chances of being selected for the bench today than lawyers of substance. Having ever strongly expressed an opinion, bravely fought for a cause or lived a varied life rich in experience are flaming torches consuming prospective justices. Even Judge Samuel Alito, the latest Bush Supreme Court nominees, and his handlers find it necessary to wiggle and worm through his devoutly Catholic 92-year-old mother's statement that "of course" her son opposes abortion and Judge Alito's 20-year-old declaration of conservatism as an applicant for a government job with the Reagan administration.

To successfully tap dance through the audition for the big court, this judicial nominee must dodge and weave to disassociate himself with his family's values without alienating those who share those values. He must dismiss his espoused conservatism as youthful posturing for a job.

To win this truly important Supreme Court post, Judge Alito must choose between being trapped by admitting a past life as a real person with opinions, feelings and beliefs or portraying himself as having been an obsequious job applicant willing to say anything to get an entry position. …