Bench Memos

Not All Law Is Politics in Robes

My weekend WSJ Rule of Law column on the Alito confirmation hearings is here (may require subscription). Some excerpts

Samuel Alito has delivered an impressive performance under interrogation, revealing a humility — and a command of legal matters — well beyond that of his inquisitors. It was clear that many of those questioning him had little interest in the substance of his answers, particularly since he would not tell senators how he would resolve contentious issues that may come before the court. . . .

Viewing judges as life-tenured politicians who get to impose their own policy preferences furthers the downward spiral of judicial politicization. To be sure, judges themselves are not blameless. The Supreme Court’s willingness to inject itself into controversies traditionally resolved by the political branches of government only encourages interest groups to devote resources to shaping the federal bench. . . .

To his credit, Judge Alito explained the process he would go through to evaluate various types of cases without committing himself to a given outcome. He exhibited the same qualities before the Senate Judiciary Committee that have so impressed his colleagues and those who have studied his record on the bench. Judge Alito stressed that the process of judging — the exercise of judgment rather than will — is more important than a specific result. His testimony was a forthright reminder that not all law is politics in robes.

Jonathan H. Adler — Mr. Adler is an NRO contributing editor and the inaugural Johan Verheij Memorial Professor of Law at Case Western Reserve University School of Law. His latest book is Marijuana Federalism: Uncle Sam and Mary Jane.

Most Popular

Elections

Biden, Never

Editor’s Note: If you would like to read more pros and cons on voting for President Trump, further essays on the subject, each from a different perspective, can be found  here, here, here, here, here and here. These articles, and the one below, reflect the views of the individual authors, not of the ... Read More
Elections

Biden, Never

Editor’s Note: If you would like to read more pros and cons on voting for President Trump, further essays on the subject, each from a different perspective, can be found  here, here, here, here, here and here. These articles, and the one below, reflect the views of the individual authors, not of the ... Read More
Elections

Late Campaign Stops Don’t Seem to Do Much

Growing up in New Jersey, we called nights like tonight – where there were expectations for hooliganism -- vandalism, breaking windows, and perhaps even arson, “Mischief Night.” In Detroit, they called it “Devil’s Night.” In 2020, Americans just call it “Friday.” On the menu today: wondering ... Read More
Elections

Late Campaign Stops Don’t Seem to Do Much

Growing up in New Jersey, we called nights like tonight – where there were expectations for hooliganism -- vandalism, breaking windows, and perhaps even arson, “Mischief Night.” In Detroit, they called it “Devil’s Night.” In 2020, Americans just call it “Friday.” On the menu today: wondering ... Read More
White House

Hell, Yes

Editor’s Note: If you would like to read more pros and cons on voting for President Trump, further essays on the subject, each from a different perspective, can be found here, here, here, here, and here. These articles, and the one below, reflect the views of the individual authors, not of the National ... Read More
White House

Hell, Yes

Editor’s Note: If you would like to read more pros and cons on voting for President Trump, further essays on the subject, each from a different perspective, can be found here, here, here, here, and here. These articles, and the one below, reflect the views of the individual authors, not of the National ... Read More

Searching for a Sign

I’ve been waiting for almost six months to see a Biden-Harris yard sign in my neighborhood. Finally one -- just one -- appeared about two weeks ago. It is large and proud. The homeowners even equipped it with a spotlight, so that it is visible at night. I’m surprised, because liberal political yard signs ... Read More

Searching for a Sign

I’ve been waiting for almost six months to see a Biden-Harris yard sign in my neighborhood. Finally one -- just one -- appeared about two weeks ago. It is large and proud. The homeowners even equipped it with a spotlight, so that it is visible at night. I’m surprised, because liberal political yard signs ... Read More