Judges and the GOP Candidates

by Jonathan H. Adler

Ramesh –  It’s fair to note that Thompson has not appointed judges, and does not have much executive experience, but I hardly think that’s a knock against him on this issue. In any event, on this (and other) issues, I think one should look at all of the candidates across the board.

Let’s start with the Senators. Neither Thompson nor McCain has appointed judges, so we have to look at other indicia of how they will handle judicial appointments. Of the two, I think Thompson comes out better here.  He has a clear judicial philosophy and has been a vocal backer of Bush’s nominees, and was picked to be the “sherpa” for John Roberts’ nomination to the High Court.  McCain, on the other hand, joined the “Gang of 14.”  Unless one thinks this compromise was a good deal, I think it’s a reason to question how McCain would handle this issue.

Now lets look at the executives.  From what I’ve heard, Romney’s early judicial picks were nothing to cheer about, but I may be wrong.  Here, as elsewhere, I am concerned that Romney did not begin to compile a positive record until after he decided to run for President.  Is this an unfair characterization?  In any event, I found it interesting that he’s now calling for a judge he picked to resign.  Maybe he was misled by the judge’s record prior to appointment, maybe it was a bad pick from the start.  Either way, it’s a newsworthy development.

Giuliani also has a record on this issue, and I think it also raises questions.  From what I’ve seen, his judicial appointments as mayor of New York should give conservatives pause about how he would approach picking federal judges.  His selections were limited by the appointment process, to be sure, but I think it is hard to argue that he made the best of the situation.  The strongest arguments one can make for Giuliani on this issue are that a) he’ll delegate this issue to Ted Olson types, and b) insofar as he’s involved himself, he’ll be inclined to nominate “law and order” types, and that such judges will generally be good across the board.  These are not frivolous arguments, though some (like Matt Franck — see his posts on Bench Memos) will remain unconvinced.

As for Huckabee, I think we have little to go on with him because judges are elected in Arkansas.  If he made some appointments, I’d like to know more about them.