Judge vs. academic

May 6, 2009
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Who’s better suited to be the next United States Supreme Court justice – a judge with appellate experience or a law school professor or dean?

Since Justice David Souter confirmed last week he will leave the nation’s highest court after the term ends this summer, I’ve read more about what type of person should replace the justice than actual names of potential replacements.

Of course, it’s always too early to tell who President Obama may select as Justice Souter’s replacement, but commentary by news organizations and on blogs are pushing for someone different to take the bench. I recently read one commentary encouraging the president to pick someone from academia. The writer had a point; someone who has spent years in the educational system has experience researching and writing, an important skill for a U.S. Supreme Court justice.

But can someone who’s never sat on the bench understand the entire appellate process? It makes sense to look for another appellate judge from the federal circuits or perhaps a state court, however; does it necessarily make them more qualified for the job? Article III, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution doesn’t require a current judge or someone with judicial experience be selected for the position.

What’s your take on what type of candidate President Obama should select to replace Justice Souter?
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