A COURT OF HIS OWN

Brett Marston doesn’t know what to make of Bob Novak’s complaint that the Senate Democrats are using “an unprecedented filibuster campaign to prevent a sitting president from selecting his own judiciary (Emphasis added).” Writes Brett,

Slip of the pen? Sense of Republican entitlement? Commitment to the imperial presidency? Woeful constitutional ignorance? Conscious distortion? You decide.

I’m not sure Novak’s language is the most politic way of putting it, but it sounds about right to me. Why else give the power of appointment to presidents if not so that they can select judges that match their political philosophy? That practice was ongoing from the earliest days of the Republic–see the controversy that led to Marbury v. Madison, for example. The Senate’s role in confirmations is a check on presidents putting cronies, criminals, and the otherwise unfit into positions of responsibility; it’s not supposed to be an equal say. Indeed, if the Framers had wanted judges picked simply on their merits with no regard to political leanings, why have a single politician appoint them rather than, say, the House of Representatives? (I’d say a judicial commission, but I don’t think that sort of institution was in use in those days.)

FILED UNDER: Law and the Courts
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.