Politicians as judges | Arkansas Blog

Politicians as judges

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A weighty subject, but worth reading by followers of federal courts, is undertaken on Linda Greenhouse's blog. She pays tribute to a deceased federal judge, Frank Coffin, widely admired, whose political background contributed to his appointment. In the days when politicians were looking for compromises, not strictly ideologues, you could argue that they might have been particularly well-suited for judgeships.

Times have changed, of course. She notes current judicial politics:

President Obama has made a series of cautious, low-profile nominations to the federal courts — 20 of the 30 nominees have been state or federal judges, and several others are former prosecutors — only to encounter Republican-led tactics of obstruction forcing the Democratic leadership to round up supermajorities before daring to bring nominees to the floor.

The president’s moderate nominee for the Seventh Circuit, David Hamilton, a federal district judge from Indiana who received an endorsement from the president of the Indianapolis chapter of the conservative Federalist Society, was confirmed only after cloture broke a filibuster, and won the support of a solitary Republican senator, Richard Lugar of Indiana. The administration’s effort to play to the middle having been rebuffed, a rising tide of progressive voices is calling on the president to be more assertively ideological in his judicial nominations. “If only he weren’t so fixated on wooing Republican senators who seem determined not to be wooed,” David Fontana, a law professor at George Washington University, wrote on The New Republic’s Web site last month.

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