"Should Kagan's Lack Of Judicial Experience Matter?"
- Our brief discussion on Kagan focused on her qualifications to be a Supreme Court Justice. There was a question as to what exactly those qualifications are. Here's what the Constitution says:
"[The President]...shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme [sic] Court" (Article II).
This is something most of us already know — it's the President's choice, as long as the Senate approves. But what about specific qualifications? Here's all I could find:
"The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behaviour, and shall, at stated Times, receive for their Services a Compensation, which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office" (Article III).
"good Behaviour"? It's fascinating that there isn't even a qualification that the nominee had been a judge. Furthermore, only a single justice from the landmark Brown v. Board decision had served previously as a judge.
- One of the main reasons recent SCOTUS nominees previously have been lower court judges is that "by looking at a lower court record, a president, or a senator for that matter, can get a reasonably good idea of what a nominee's views are." I connected this notion to the near-obsession that some of our students have with their own "record" (grades, activities, etc.) accumulated in school.