Bench Memos

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Genius Advice


David Brooks has some sound judge-picking advice for President Bush:
Ignore the silly calls for non-lawyers and politicos, and don’t worry about historic “firsts,” preserving “balance,” or “identity politics tokenism.”
Instead, Brooks urges, pick a genius. (Not just any genius, of course. Holmes was a genius, but he should not be the model for a Bush nominee.)

Brooks mentions two “powerhouses”: Harvard’s Mary Ann Glendon and Judge Michael McConnell. Both of these lawyers are top-flight scholars and world-class decent people. I was particularly pleased to read a concise statement — in the New York Times, of all places — of Judge McConnell’s invaluable contribution to the debate over the place of religion in public life and over the real, religious-freedom-protecting meaning of church-state separation.

Others have also made Brooks’s point, which is, in a nutshell: The nominee should be the best available athlete, period. After all, Supreme Court Justices and their work really matter; nominations are for the good of the law and the preservation of the Constitution, not to increase turnout in swing districts or certain ethnic communities. My impression is that the President has the votes to get his nominee confirmed; he does not to settle for less or try to find vanilla, viewless unknowns. There are all-stars on the President’s
lists: McConnell, John Roberts, Michael Luttig, and others. I hope the President is looking for a Jordan, and not (no offense!) a Will Perdue or a Luc Longley.


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