View Poll Results: Should Supreme Court Justices have had experience as judges?

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  • Absolutely!

    39 48.75%
  • Doesn't matter if they were judges or not.

    36 45.00%
  • Not sure

    5 6.25%
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Thread: Should Supreme Court justices have had experience being a judge at some point?

  1. #51
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    Re: Should Supreme Court justices have had experience being a judge at some point?

    Quote Originally Posted by Groucho View Post
    I understand and agree. My post was in response to this:

    Originally Posted by winston53660
    14th Amendment, one must be born in the US to have Constitutional rights.


    This is blatantly false.
    Yeah you are right I should have put persons and naturalized in there. But since it was a joke about a ham sandwich I went to quickly.

  2. #52
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    Re: Should Supreme Court justices have had experience being a judge at some point?

    While I voted for option 1, but after further thought option 2 seems the better one.

    Personally, I would much rather that a judge on the SCOTUS had previous judge experiance, but it is obviously not vital, as the various info bits posted show.

    As long as they have SOME legal knowledge...
    Last edited by The Mark; 05-10-10 at 09:45 PM.
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  3. #53
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    Re: Should Supreme Court justices have had experience being a judge at some point?

    Quote Originally Posted by hazlnut View Post
    Chief Justices

    John Jay..............................Governor
    John Rutledge......................Governor
    Oliver Ellsworth....................Senator
    John Marshall.......................Secretary of State
    Roger Taney.........................Secretary of the Treasury, U.S. Attorney General
    Salmon Chase......................Secretary of the Treasury, Governor
    Morrison Waite.....................Lawyer
    Melville Fuller.......................Representative
    Edward White.......................Lawyer
    William Howard Taft..............U.S. President
    Charles Hughes....................Secretary of State
    Harlan Stone........................Attorney General
    Fred Vinson..........................Secretary of the Treasury
    Earl Warren..........................Governor


    Associate Justices

    William Cushing...................Member, Continental Congress
    James Wilson......................Member, Continental Congress
    William Paterson..................Governor
    Samuel Chase.....................Member, Maryland General Assembly; Continental Congress
    Bushrod Washington............Lawyer
    William Johnson..................Representative, S.C. House
    Henry B. Livingston.............Military
    Gabriel Duvall.....................Representative
    Joseph Story.......................Representative
    Smith Thompson.................Secretary of the Navy
    John McLean.......................Unknown
    Henry Baldwin....................Representative
    James M. Wayne.................Mayor, Representative
    Philip P. Barbour..................Representative
    John McKinley.....................Senator, Representative
    Levi Woodbury....................Governor, Secretary of the Treasury, Secretary of the Navy
    Benjamin Curtis..................Lawyer
    John Campbell....................Lawyer
    Nathan Clifford....................Attorney General
    Noah Swayne......................Member, Ohio Legislature, U.S. Attorney
    Samuel Miller......................Lawyer
    David Davis........................Senator
    Joseph Bradley....................Lawyer
    John M. Harlan (I)...............Kentucky Attorney General
    Stanley Matthews................U.S. Attorney, Military
    Horace Gray........................Lawyer
    Lucius Lamar.......................Member, Georgia House, Secretary of the Interior
    George Shiras, Jr.................Lawyer
    Howell Jackson....................Member, Tennessee House
    Edward D. White..................Lawyer
    William Henry Moody............Attorney General
    Mahlon Pitney.....................Congress (office unspecified)
    James McReynolds...............Attorney General
    Louis Brandeis.....................Lawyer
    George Sutherland...............Congress (office unspecified)
    Pierce Butler.......................Lawyer
    Edward Sanford...................Attorney General
    Owen Roberts......................Assistant District Attorney
    Hugo L. Black......................Senator
    Stanley Forman Reed...........Solicitor General
    Felix Frankfurter..................Lawyer
    William O. Douglas...............Law Professor, Chairman of SEC
    Frank Murphy......................Mayor, Governor, Attorney General
    James Francis Byrnes...........Secretary of State
    Robert H. Jackson................Attorney General
    Harold Hitz Burton................Senator
    Tom Clark...........................Attorney General
    John M. Harlan (II)..............Lawyer
    Arthur J. Goldberg...............Secretary of Labor
    Abe Fortas..........................President and Chairman of the SEC
    Thurgood Marshall...............Lawyer
    Lewis F. Powell....................Lawyer

    Let's see, two of the most influential legal minds of the 20th century were not judges before being appointed to the court.

    Hmmmm.... I guess we can flush that GOP talking point down the toilet.
    First, I assume you're not actually saying that Warren was one of the most influential minds of the 20th century, because nobody who actually follows the court (liberal or conservative) would say that he was anything other than an abject failure as a CJ. If you actually read the important decisions of his era, you'll see that it was not the Warren court, but the Brennan/Douglas/Frankfurter/Black court.

    Second, yes, we're all aware that historically, most of the members of the Supreme Court were appointed directly out of political positions. That's because historically, most of the lower federal courts were considered to be unprestigious compared to political positions. As a result, the best legal minds went into politics.

    Nowadays, that is not at all the case. Politics is quite unprestigious compared to legal positions, such as USA. SG, OLC, or Dist. Ct. Judge. As a result, most of the Justices in the modern era have come from the Art. III courts. Citing to Justices from the 1800s as proof that modern Justices should come from private practice is either disingenuous or uninformed.

    Quote Originally Posted by winston53660 View Post
    14th Amendment, one must be born in the US to have Constitutional rights.
    That's not what the 14th says.

    Quote Originally Posted by Groucho View Post
    Is there a more updated version of that list? It ends 50 years ago!
    Exactly.
    Last edited by RightinNYC; 05-10-10 at 09:44 PM.
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  4. #54
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    Re: Should Supreme Court justices have had experience being a judge at some point?

    Quote Originally Posted by RightinNYC View Post
    First, I assume you're not actually saying that Warren was one of the most influential minds of the 20th century, because nobody who actually follows the court (liberal or conservative) would say that he was anything other than an abject failure as a CJ.
    Many of us who actually went to law school are taught the exact opposite.

    Quote Originally Posted by RightinNYC View Post
    If you actually read the important decisions of his era, you'll see that it was not the Warren court, but the Brennan/Douglas/Frankfurter/Black court.
    Many were, but not all. Warren gets credit for Brown v. Board of Education if nothing else, and by using his skills to get it a unanimous decision.

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    Re: Should Supreme Court justices have had experience being a judge at some point?

    Quote Originally Posted by LiberalAvenger View Post
    Translation please.
    The point of ther post I responded to is that people w/o judicial experience have been placed on the court in the past.

    So what? How does that negate argument that SCotUS justices -should- have judicial experience?

  6. #56
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    Re: Should Supreme Court justices have had experience being a judge at some point?

    Quote Originally Posted by Groucho View Post
    Many of us who actually went to law school are taught the exact opposite.

    Many were, but not all. Warren gets credit for Brown v. Board of Education if nothing else, and by using his skills to get it a unanimous decision.
    Despite being the Chief Justice and having the ability to assign decisions, Warren was responsible for very few of the important decisions in his time. If you look at most of the fractious decisions of the era, they're authored by Douglas/Frankfurter/Black. If you look at the most famous and enduring dissents or concurrences, they're authored by Brennan and Powell. Warren has very few opinions that are considered seminal today.

    Beyond that, nothing in his record indicates that he was a monumental legal thinker as opposed to simply a consensus builder who happened to be in place at a time of substantial social change. To this day, many law students and lawyers cite judges like Brennan, Black, or Douglas as their "favorite" Justices. I've never heard anyone mention Warren for anything other than being in the right place at the right time.
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  7. #57
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    Re: Should Supreme Court justices have had experience being a judge at some point?

    Quote Originally Posted by RightinNYC View Post
    Despite being the Chief Justice and having the ability to assign decisions, Warren was responsible for very few of the important decisions in his time. If you look at most of the fractious decisions of the era, they're authored by Douglas/Frankfurter/Black. If you look at the most famous and enduring dissents or concurrences, they're authored by Brennan and Powell. Warren has very few opinions that are considered seminal today.

    Beyond that, nothing in his record indicates that he was a monumental legal thinker as opposed to simply a consensus builder who happened to be in place at a time of substantial social change. To this day, many law students and lawyers cite judges like Brennan, Black, or Douglas as their "favorite" Justices. I've never heard anyone mention Warren for anything other than being in the right place at the right time.
    Well, in some ways I agree. What I give him credit for, as I said earlier, was being a good consensus builder who was able to get unanimous decisions for the most important cases. That can't be overlooked; especially with controversial cases, it is important to have unanimous decisions, because that doesn't give opponents a very strong argument.

    I also agree with his view of the Constitution, of course. Still, the point of this thread is whether lack of judicial experience means you will be a bad justice, and I don't think you're arguing that he was bad, are you?

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    Re: Should Supreme Court justices have had experience being a judge at some point?

    I wish I had a similar post from when Bush nominated Harriet Myers. Wondering if the same people who are saying that judicial experience is necessary would have been saying it then.

    (I'm sure some would -- after all, she was attacked by the right more than the left, if I recall!)

    By the way, I found a chart listing Supreme Court Justices without prior judicial experience. There have been 40, but the last one was Rehnquist, appointed in the 70s.

    FindLaw Supreme Court Center: Supreme Court: Justices Without Prior Judicial Experience

  9. #59
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    Re: Should Supreme Court justices have had experience being a judge at some point?

    Quote Originally Posted by Groucho View Post
    Well, in some ways I agree. What I give him credit for, as I said earlier, was being a good consensus builder who was able to get unanimous decisions for the most important cases. That can't be overlooked; especially with controversial cases, it is important to have unanimous decisions, because that doesn't give opponents a very strong argument.

    I also agree with his view of the Constitution, of course. Still, the point of this thread is whether lack of judicial experience means you will be a bad justice, and I don't think you're arguing that he was bad, are you?
    Bad in what sense? If Warren had served on the court during a different era, I'm inclined to believe he would have been entirely forgettable. If it weren't for the fact that the court was positioned to make the changes he desired, I doubt he would have done much of note. He wasn't the type to craft scathing dissents that would stand the test of time, nor was he the type to persuade a reluctant majority to come around to his point of view. He was a good justice for his time, but he wasn't exactly breaking new ground.

    Either way, none of this has any impact on the question of whether judicial experience is beneficial for a SC justice. I think it would be hard to argue that it's not usually a benefit. Furthermore, I think that citing to the aforementioned list as proof that most justices don't have legal experience is entirely disingenuous, for the reasons I mentioned above.
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  10. #60
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    Re: Should Supreme Court justices have had experience being a judge at some point?

    Quote Originally Posted by Groucho View Post
    I wish I had a similar post from when Bush nominated Harriet Myers. Wondering if the same people who are saying that judicial experience is necessary would have been saying it then.

    (I'm sure some would -- after all, she was attacked by the right more than the left, if I recall!)

    By the way, I found a chart listing Supreme Court Justices without prior judicial experience. There have been 40, but the last one was Rehnquist, appointed in the 70s.

    FindLaw Supreme Court Center: Supreme Court: Justices Without Prior Judicial Experience
    You can search the forum for threads about Miers. If I recall correctly, things were mostly switched on both sides, as you might expect.
    People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.

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