Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Picking Supremes: More than calling balls and strikes...

We came across this NYTimes Op-Ed by Geoffrey R. Stone, professor of law at the University of Chicago and editor of the Supreme Court Review. We highly recommend you read this op-ed to understand what we, as a nation, need in the men and women who bear the robe and sit astride the benches in our courtrooms. It is one of the best summations of what is needed from our judges that we have ever read.

We especially agreed with the following passage:

So, how should judges interpret the Constitution? To answer that question, we need to consider why we give courts the power of judicial review — the power to hold laws unconstitutional — in the first place. Although the framers thought democracy to be the best system of government, they recognized that it was imperfect. One flaw that troubled them was the risk that prejudice or intolerance on the part of the majority might threaten the liberties of a minority. As James Madison observed, in a democratic society “the real power lies in the majority of the community, and the invasion of private rights is chiefly to be apprehended ... from acts in which the government is the mere instrument of the major number of the constituents.” It was therefore essential, Madison concluded, for judges, whose life tenure insulates them from the demands of the majority, to serve as the guardians of our liberties and as “an impenetrable bulwark” against every encroachment upon our most cherished freedoms.

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