Obama in His Own Words: What He’s Looking for in a SCOTUS Judge

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In a blog post exclusive to SCOTUSblog, President Barack Obama outlined the characteristics he will consider when making a nomination for a Supreme Court judge.

He wrote:

First and foremost, the person I appoint will be eminently qualified. He or she will have an independent mind, rigorous intellect, impeccable credentials, and a record of excellence and integrity. I’m looking for a mastery of the law, with an ability to hone in on the key issues before the Court, and provide clear answers to complex legal questions.

Second, the person I appoint will be someone who recognizes the limits of the judiciary’s role; who understands that a judge’s job is to interpret the law, not make the law. I seek judges who approach decisions without any particular ideology or agenda, but rather a commitment to impartial justice, a respect for precedent, and a determination to faithfully apply the law to the facts at hand.

But I’m also mindful that there will be cases that reach the Supreme Court in which the law is not clear. There will be cases in which a judge’s analysis necessarily will be shaped by his or her own perspective, ethics, and judgment. That’s why the third quality I seek in a judge is a keen understanding that justice is not about abstract legal theory, nor some footnote in a dusty casebook. It’s the kind of life experience earned outside the classroom and the courtroom; experience that suggests he or she views the law not only as an intellectual exercise, but also grasps the way it affects the daily reality of people’s lives in a big, complicated democracy, and in rapidly changing times. That, I believe, is an essential element for arriving at just decisions and fair outcomes.

Supreme Court experts speculate that Obama will most likely pick Attorney General Loretta Lynch as his nominee, though he didn’t indicate any decision has been made yet in his blog post.

Obama did, however, call again on the Senate to confirm his eventual nominee. He shouldn’t hold his breath.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell insists there will be no consideration or action taken until a new president is sworn in after the 2016 election:

“This nomination will be determined by whoever wins the presidency in the polls,” Mr. McConnell said. “I agree with the Judiciary Committee’s recommendation that we not have hearings. In short, there will not be action taken.”

Do you think the Senate Republicans will actually stick to their guns this time around? Let us know in the comments!

 

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