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IWN Staff
June 1, 2023 - 2 minutes
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In 60 Seconds: Judicial Qualifications

*PDF Download: In 60 Seconds – Judicial Qualifications

Progressives want judges to decide cases based on modern notions of fairness and social justice, rather than on the law as written. But it is not the job of a federal judge to establish public policy priorities or to create new rights and remedies. Those jobs belong to the political branches of government, which are accountable to the people.

Here’s the issue of judicial qualifications in 60 seconds:

What’s at Stake:

Progressives want judges to decide cases based on modern notions of fairness and social
justice, rather than on the law as written. But it is not the job of a federal judge to establish
public policy priorities or to create new rights and remedies. Those jobs belong to the political
branches of government, which are accountable to the people.

Because progressives view the courts as “super-legislatures”, rather than neutral arbiters of
law, they oppose nominees to the federal bench who do not have an explicit record of support for their favorite causes and who are not willing to legislate particular policy outcomes from the bench. A system in which a judge can decide any case however he or she sees fit—where the outcome of the case depends not on the law but on the judge assigned to the case—puts everyone’s freedom at risk.

Judicial Qualifications
The most important qualifications for nominees to the federal bench are:

1. Legal experience and credentials.

Nominees to the federal bench should have distinguished themselves professionally as lawyersor legal academics. Because every litigant has the right to representation, nominees should notbe judged by their clients or on the basis of legal arguments they made on behalf of clients.

2. A commitment to the principle of judicial restraint

Judges must interpret the law as written in the U.S. Constitution or in statutes passed by
Congress and must restrain themselves from bending the law to achieve certain objectives. So
long as a nominee is committed to this principle of restraint, his or her personal policy views
are irrelevant.

3. Judicial philosophy

A demonstrated commitment to originalism and textualism provides important evidence that a
nominee will practice judicial restraint, rather than impose his or her morals or worldview from
the bench.

Addressing Misperceptions: 

IWN Staff
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