liveonearth (liveonearth) wrote,

Kent Brudney on Constitutional directives for SCOTUS Judge Nomination and Confirmation

He spoke at O'Connor's on June 27 for the FFRF.  Overall what I learned from this retired polysci professor is that the framers of the US constitution intended to create a principle-based document that allows enough structure to prevent chaos, and enough freedom to allow evolution of our society and laws over time.  He never said anything like that, it is purely my restatement of what I walked away with.  Brudley is a good speaker and clearly has taught this subject matter in many different ways over the years.  When faced with a mature atheist audience in liberal Portland, he was able to skim over a lot of topis that he belabors for undergraduates.  One thing I liked about his speaking style (and will borrow): he said that questions for the purpose of clarification or elaboration are welcome during the presentation, all others had to wait until the end.  This prevents diversions from the topic and keeps it all moving along.

He started out saying that the independent judiciary is detailed in Article 1, and that it was clearly a priority for the framers of the constitution.  I also learned that Article 2 is the Executive article, and it is under this article that the constitution says that the president nominates supreme court justices and with the senates advice and consent these nominations can be confirmed.  The president is instructed to choose based on fitness and qualifications, and not on nepotism or cronyism.  The president is selected for this job because he is thought to be more insulated from the "passions and prejudices of the people".

Nowhere in the constitution does it say that the senate, or the people, should have any part in nominating judges.  The Federalist Papers have an article by Hamilton that specifically says there shall be "no exertion of choice on the part of the Senate".   Nowhere does it say that no SCOTUS judges may be nominated in the last year.  To his knowledge our current VP Biden was the first to say that a lame duck president should not nominate--which was an easy gotcha for the Republicans.  Brudney said that our system of checks and balances, and the separation of powers, is sometimes unproductive.  You could say that.  Stalemate potential is necessary in a principle-driven constitution that provides us with freedoms, and protects us from rash decisions by any branch of our government.
Tags: america, constitution, federal government, government, president, scotus

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