Comments: No Surprises

"Is two years unusually short? Do we normally see more experienced Federal Judiciary nominees?"

No, we normally, as in "within the norm" see SCOTUS Justices who have never been judges at all, such as Earl Warren, Abe Fortas, Byron White, Tom Clark, Robert F. Jackson, James F. Byrnes, Wiliam O. Douglas, Felix Frankfurter, Stanley Reed, Owen J. Roberts, Charles E. Hughes, Pierce Butler, George Sutherland, Louis D. Brandeis,
James C. McReynolds, William H. Moody, and endless others (I'm just mentioning Justices appointed in the 20th Century, going backwards.).

They weren't just never Federal appellate judges, or federal judges, they were never judges, ever, in any sense, prior to nomination and appointment.

Frank Murphy, an FDR appointment had the sole judicial experience of being "Judge, Detroit Recorder's Court." Hugo L. Black's sole experience was as "Police court judge (Alabama)."

Having any judicial experience at all has never, ever, been a requirement for the Supreme Court. Historically, they've generally been politicians (frequently Attorneys-General) as much as judges. Anyone want to disqualify the above justices or say they were unqualified?

Check it out, though you'll have to hit "background" for any justice to check.

Posted by Gary Farber at July 22, 2005 01:37 PM

Oh, and I agree on Roberts. I certainly wouldn't nominate him, were I Prez, and I have no objection to individual Democratic Senators voting no on him, and I absolutely believe he should be subjected to deep and close questioning, but offhand, I see no grounds yet for a filibuster, and am not yet convinced it would make strategic or tactical sense for all Democrats to simply vote no, since he'd be confirmed anyway.

Now, if the next nominee is Janice Brown Rogers, I can possibly see a filibuster, but it would still only work if the Gang of 14 let it pass; the "nuke option" remains a severe danger until we can win back the Senate. or the Presidency.

Posted by Gary Farber at July 22, 2005 01:41 PM

Thanks, Gary. I'm still browsing that website, but your information was what I was primarily looking for.

Seems that positions on the SCOTUS Bench, much like ambassadorships, are political rewards, not jobs given to the most qualified.

Still. It hasn't been an unqualified disaster.

Posted by Anne at July 28, 2005 11:51 AM