Should only politically neutral judges be confirmed to the Supreme Court? | The Tylt

Should only politically neutral judges be confirmed to the Supreme Court?

Questions about the impartiality of Supreme Court justices are being raised amidst Brett Kavanaugh's nomination. Kavanaugh's initial claims of bipartisanship and dedication to blind justice became suspect during his secondary hearing, in which he railed against Democrats. Some people argue the president is allowed to pick Supreme Court justices and cannot be expected to select someone who disagrees with him or her politically. Others believe the court must remain politically neutral at all costs. What do you think?

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Should only politically neutral judges be confirmed to the Supreme Court?
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Should only politically neutral judges be confirmed to the Supreme Court?
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Laurence H. Tribe, a professor of constitutional law at Harvard Law School, wrote in an op-ed for The New York Times, that Kavanaugh's blatant partisanship and stated right-wing opinions would require him to recuse himself from a substantial number of cases in order to maintain some semblance of impartiality on the court. 
Judge Kavanaugh’s attacks on identifiable groups — Democrats, liberals, “outside left-wing opposition groups” and those angry “about President Trump and the 2016 election” or seeking “revenge on behalf of the Clintons” — render it inconceivable that he could “administer justice without respect to persons,” as a Supreme Court justice must swear to do, when groups like Planned Parenthood, the NRDC Action Fund, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Naral Pro-Choice America or the American Civil Liberties Union appear as parties or file briefs on behalf of plaintiffs and defendants.
For a Justice Kavanaugh to participate in internal court discussion or oral argument of such cases, much less vote on their resolution, would involve not just an undeniable appearance of conflict but an actual conflict, given his stated animosities and observation that “what goes around comes around.”

Nominating a hyper-partisan justice to the court could necessitate that justice's frequent recusal and could cause the court to be evenly split on decisions. 

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In his initial hearings, Kavanaugh claimed to value bipartisanship above all else with regards to the court. However, as he became more antagonistic during his secondary hearing, he began espousing hyperpartisan views that have led many Senators to voice concerns. Per The New York Times:

Judge Kavanaugh came up in Washington through partisan politics; he worked on the investigation that led to Mr. Clinton’s impeachment, and later he worked for President George W. Bush. At his first Supreme Court confirmation hearing, last month, he portrayed himself as a neutral arbiter of the law who is above politics, telling the Judiciary Committee that the Supreme Court “must never be viewed as a partisan institution.”
But last week he took the gloves off, ripping into Democrats for what he called “a calculated and orchestrated political hit, fueled with apparent pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election” and “revenge on behalf of the Clintons.” Senator Mazie K. Hirono, Democrat of Hawaii and a member of the Judiciary Committee, seized on those comments on Monday as she laced into Judge Kavanaugh in a speech on the Senate floor.
“We all saw something about Judge Kavanaugh’s temperament and character that day that should disqualify him from serving on the Supreme Court of the United States,” Ms. Hirono said. “He was angry. He was belligerent. He was partisan. He went on the attack against senators questioning him. These are not qualities we look for in a Supreme Court justice, or a judge for that matter.”
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In a CNN op-ed written shortly after the presidential debates of 2016, Barry P. McDonald, a professor of constitutional law at Pepperdine University, argued that justices should be held to a standard of neutrality in all their rulings.

Our future chief executive officers are legitimizing and enabling the court as a political actor, rather than an institution dedicated to providing "Equal Justice Under Law" (as the Supreme Court building itself proclaims).
When this happens, the American public loses confidence in the court as a place where any person can get a fair hearing based on the merits of their legal claims.
What the candidates should be insisting on is the appointment of justices who put their political biases aside and, even in ideologically-charged cases, do their best to interpret and apply the general law of the Constitution in an objective and principled way.
...[T]ransparency in reasoning might prevent justices from doing what many say they're doing now -- strategically selecting one or more interpretive sources that would favor the result they wish to reach in a particular case (e.g., historical intent for gun rights, or modern needs/values for gay marriage) and ignoring those that might point to a different answer.
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Constitutionally, the president has right to nominate whoever he sees fit to fill vacant seats on the Supreme Court. President Trump says he consulted with many people before making his nomination, yet ultimately the decision is his to make. Per The Washington Post: 

“In keeping with President Reagan’s legacy, I do not ask about a nominee’s personal opinions,” Trump said in an announcement in the East Room of the White House. “What matters is not a judge’s political views but whether they can set aside those views to do what the law and the Constitution require. I am pleased to say that I have found, without doubt, such a person.”
...“No president has ever consulted more widely or talked with more people from more backgrounds to seek input about a Supreme Court nomination,” Kavanaugh said. “Mr. President, I am grateful to you, and I am humbled by your confidence in me.”
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As noted by the editorial board of the Des Moines Register:

It’s a cliché to say elections have consequences, but the president’s constitutional authority to nominate Supreme Court justices is unquestionably one of them. It was wrong of Grassley and his fellow GOP senators to refuse a duly elected president the right to fill a court vacancy with a qualified nominee for no reason other than politics. It would be equally wrong to deny Trump that same right for partisan reasons.
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Albert R. Hunt, a former executive editor of Bloomberg News, wrote in an op-ed for the site arguing the court could actually benefit from more participation by politicians, as they have a different understanding of many of the cases that find their way to the Supreme Court. 

The tricky legal debate over political gerrymandering — constructing legislative districts to give one political party an advantage — would also profit from the participation of savvy political practitioners. Last month the court sidestepped deciding a Wisconsin gerrymandering case on the grounds that plaintiffs hadn't shown that they were individually harmed by statewide maps meant to give their opponents an overall political advantage.
"None of these justices know what it's like to be targeted by gerrymandering," said Samuel Wang, a Princeton University neuroscientist who has studied redistricting.
A Supreme Court with all politicians and no legal intellectuals would be unhealthy. So is the reverse.
FINAL RESULTS
Politics
Should only politically neutral judges be confirmed to the Supreme Court?
A festive crown for the winner
#JusticeIsNeutral
#PresGetsToPick