In a response of 150 words to 200 words, please explain whether you feel Supreme Court justices should have lower court experience, such as serving on a Federal Court of Appeal before being elevated to the highest court in the land? Does lack of experience as a judge and only experience as a lawyer disqualify an individual from the highest court in the land as was the case with George W. Bush’s nominee Harriet Miers, or is service as U.S. Solicitor General sufficient experience to earn a seat on the highest court as was the case with Barack Obama’s nominee Elena Kagen and Lyndon Johnson’s nominee Thurgood Marshall?
Alternatively, do Supreme Court justices rely too heavily on the work of their law clerks? In essence, do you feel law clerks exert too much influence when it comes to deciding what cases end up in the Cert Pool? Also, do law clerks have too much influence in writing first drafts of opinions? Do law clerks sometimes enable justices to stay on the court longer than is prudent given declines in the physical and mental health of the justice? Do you consider it generous that four law clerks are assigned to each justice? If you were a top graduate of an Ivy League Law School, would you clerk for a Supreme Court justice or would you rather take a six-figure salary exceeding $200,000 from a high-powered law firm instead of the $80,000 you would receive as a clerk for a Supreme Court
Discussion Board Assignment: Supreme Court
Supreme court judges do not need to have lower court experience, such as serving on a Federal Court of Appeal, before being elevated to the highest court in the land. Lack of experience as a judge does not disqualify an individual from serving in the Supreme Court. One with experience as a lawyer can perform exceptionally well as a Supreme Court judge. A look at past Supreme Court judges reveals that some of the country’s most illustrious judges did not have experience as judges before appointment. These include many important justices, both conservative and liberal.
Chief Justice John Marshall, who is credited for establishing the judiciary as a co-equal branch of government; Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who led the Supreme Court in reversing the decision to expand individual and civil rights; Chief Justice Earl Warren, who led the court in the expansion of individual and civil rights; Justice Joseph Story; Justice Robert Jackson, a former attorney general whose opinions at the Supreme Court on the limits of executive power are cited routinely at hearings; and Justice Louis Brandeis, are examples of exemplary judges who did not have experience as judges in lower courts before becoming Supreme Court judges.
Justice Robert Jackson clearly shows that service as U.S Solicitor General can be sufficient experience to earn a seat at the Supreme Court. Individuals who have served as judges for long periods tend to develop narrow technical skills, which is quite okay for lower court positions. At the Supreme Court, however, cases come to the court because there is a lack of clear legal answers. Justices are supposed to use judgment and technical skills to develop a sense of the structure and history of the Constitution. This could be why individuals with “fresh minds” excel as Supreme Court Justices.
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