Politics & Policy

Judge This

In the footsteps of Roberts and Alito.

As the addition of Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito to the Supreme Court has demonstrated, judicial appointments can be among a president’s most lasting legacies. The judges a president appoints will typically serve well beyond his term of office, interpreting our laws and Constitution for decades to follow. The next president may have the opportunity to appoint at least one justice to the Supreme Court and, like any new administration, will surely face a large number of courts-of-appeal and district-court vacancies.

For that reason, it is critically important to consider what type of individual a presidential candidate would nominate to the bench. We are confident that if elected as president, Governor Romney would appoint individuals to the federal courts who respect the appropriate role of the judiciary in our democratic system.

As members of the team that achieved the confirmation and appointment of Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito to the Supreme Court, in addition to hundreds of judges to the federal courts of appeal and district courts, we had a unique opportunity to observe and consider the judicial philosophies of many men and women. A large part of our efforts involved helping the nominee to explain to the Senate and the public what kind of judge he or she would be.

Perhaps Chief Justice Roberts, who clearly did not require much assistance from us, summed it up best during his opening statement at his confirmation hearing. He focused on the theme of judicial restraint in describing his approach to judging. He noted that judges should be umpires with a limited role in the game – calling balls and strikes. Like umpires, judges should rule on the facts and the law and not insert their personal views on what the law or a policy should be.

Governor Romney agrees with the views expressed by the chief justice. He recognizes the importance of appointing individuals with a judicial philosophy of restraint and a respect for the rule of law grounded in the separation of powers. He explained this quite directly when he said in an editorial, “Beware of activist judges.”

Judges who allow their own personal opinions to creep into their judicial decision-making threaten the very structure of our government. Governor Romney has clearly expressed his view about the necessity of judicial restraint: “if a judge substitutes his or her values for those values that were placed in the Constitution, they do so at great peril to the culture of our entire land.”

What kind of judge would Romney appoint to the federal bench? Without question, each individual would possess all of the essential qualifications: integrity, professional competence, and temperament. But his appointees would also have a respect for the limited role of a judge to decide only the case before him or her, respect for precedent, and respect for the legitimate roles of the other branches of government. Chief Justice Roberts eloquently summed this up at his confirmation hearing, promising “I will decide every case based on the record, according to the rule of law, without fear or favor, to the best of my ability. And I will remember that it’s my job to call balls and strikes and not to pitch or bat.” If Governor Romney is elected as our next president, we are convinced that each of his judges will do the same.

 – Kristi L. Remington served as deputy assistant attorney general at the Department of Justice and Jamie E. Brown served as special assistant to the president for legislative affairs. Both were core members of the team that achieved the confirmations of Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito to the Supreme Court. They currently serve on the Romney for President Advisory Committee on the Constitution and the Courts.

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