Are U.S. judges too political? | The Tylt

Are U.S. judges too political?

America's court system is built on principals of nonpartisanship. Judges swear to uphold the Constitution and the laws of the land, not pursue their own whims and feelings. But in the last few years, the public has become more and more aware of political bias within the court system. President Donald Trump and others frequently claim judges have a partisan bias. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts recently spoke out and claimed judges are not biased. What do you think?

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The president has had no qualms in criticizing judges who refuse to bend to his wishes and overturn his executive orders. The Supreme Court justices, specifically Chief Justice John Roberts, however, have refused to respond to any of the president's provocations.

Yet, after the president went on a typically long-winded and somewhat convoluted diatribe about the "Obama judges" serving on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals who have overturned many of his executive orders, Roberts finally decided to respond. According to The New York Times, Roberts' statement came in response to a request for a statement from the Associated Press.

“We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges,” he said in a statement. “What we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them. That independent judiciary is something we should all be thankful for.”
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After Roberts' statement, the president, predictably, took to Twitter to respond. 

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While it is true that presidents nominate judges who lean in a similar political direction, Roberts claimed that, by and large, judges attempt to rule on the law, not based on their potential partisan bias. Roberts himself has, from time to time, leaned toward the center-left on certain issues. John Cassidy writes in The New Yorker that Roberts broke from his typical silence in order to maintain the independence of the Supreme Court.

In addition to standing up for individual judges, a move that will be warmly greeted in courthouses throughout the country, the larger purpose of Roberts’s intervention may well have been to defend the independence of his own court, which is increasingly threatened by Trump’s efforts to politicize everything and anything. With his pressuring tactics and relentless attacks, the President has already threatened the independence of the lower courts, the F.B.I., and the Justice Department. Just this week, we learned that he wanted to prosecute Hillary Clinton and James Comey. As the White House prepares for a possible legal battle with the special counsel, Robert Mueller, it may be only a matter of time before the Supreme Court itself gets drawn into the Trump maelstrom.
We already know that Roberts cares a great deal about the politicization of the Court. In crafting his 2012 ruling on the Affordable Care Act, which deemed that law a legal exercise of Congress’s right to levy taxes, he was widely seen to be finding a middle ground that would avoid having the Court consumed in partisan warfare. 
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While non-biased rulings are the platonic ideal in all courts, evidence shows judges do frequently rule from a place of personal opinion. Margot Cleveland, a senior contributor to the Federalist, wrote in a column:

It is not merely the anecdotal, though, that supports Trump’s assertion that there are Obama judges, and other judges modified by their respective appointing president. Legal and political science scholars have been researching the relationship between judges’ voting patterns and the political party of the appointing president for nearly 20 years. That research has included statistical techniques and analyses and has concluded that there is “striking evidence of a relationship between the political party of the appointing president and judicial voting patterns.”
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Senate Republicans made waves when they pushed Wendy Vitter's nomination for a federal judgeship. Vitter has an extensive history of espousing hyperpartisan, conservative viewpoints. Many see Vitter's appointment as yet another sign that political partisanship is taking over the court system. Per The Washington Post:

During a Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing in April 2018, Vitter faced intense questioning from Democrats over those comments — which included claiming Planned Parenthood killed over 150,000 women a year — and her moderating an event called, “Abortion Hurts Women’s Health.” Republicans defended Vitter, arguing that despite a few omissions she had never tried to hide her antiabortion beliefs.
...They also have criticized Vitter for refusing to say during her confirmation hearing whether she agreed with the Brown v. Board of Education decision that desegregated schools.
“It is in­cred­ibly alarming that a nominee for the federal bench would be so willing to voice her support for such dangerous propaganda, especially when that same nominee is unwilling to voice her support for one of the landmark civil rights cases in our country’s history,” Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said on the floor Wednesday.
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Vitter, and many judges like her, say their personal viewpoints have no bearing on their legal rulings. Per NPR:

Vitter repeated throughout the hearing, "I am pro-life," but continued to assert that she would set aside her "personal and religious" beliefs when serving as a judge.
Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., pointing to President Trump's frequently repeated pledge to appoint "pro-life judges," asked Vitter, "From your perspective what does it mean to be a pro-life judge?"
Vitter said she could "not comment on that," but that she would be bound by the precedent of Roe v. Wade.
FINAL RESULTS
Politics
Are U.S. judges too political?
#JudgesAreNeutral
A festive crown for the winner
#AllCourtsArePolitical