Reflecting on the Importance of an Independent Judiciary

The+Supreme+Court+building+in+D.C.

Joe Ravi

The Supreme Court building in D.C.

Dylan Andrus, Reporter

In recent weeks, there has been large-spread coverage of the political tension involving the nomination of Judge Amy Barret to fill the seat of deceased Justice Ruth Ginsburg. Yet through it all, one must ask: is this a good thing?

The federal Judiciary, despite being relatively disregarded by the framers when the Constitution was written (Article III, which details the judiciary, is three vague sections), has worked itself into a unique role. The judiciary is intended to be apolitical–its officers serve for life, aren’t elected, and are not otherwise accountable to the people like their legislative and executive counterparts. This is a great concept. The role of the judiciary is to interpret the laws through the impartial trial of fact. By necessity, the judiciary has to be apolitical to achieve this. The judiciary (specifically the Supreme Court in this instance) has come into its own power, giving itself the power of judicial review during the Marshall court. Compared to the powers of the other two branches, judicial review is essentially the giant, end-all bomb of authority. Unfortunately, the framers failed to see what the judicial branch would become, and failed to prepare for such. As a result, the political officers in the legislative and executive branches are executing their purpose: being politicians. Therefore, judges at all federal levels are being chosen on a heavy political basis by both the Democrats and Republicans whenever possible. This has always been a horrible idea, but with recent events it has skyrocketed to extremism; the President and Senate are intentionally picking judicial officers with the intent of pushing their own political agendas. This is extremely dangerous to the stability of the judiciary and our whole republic. Judges and justices should be chosen based on their skill as jurists, not their ideologies. After all, the judicial system has the authority to take away not only people’s freedoms, but their very lives in some cases

Now, it’s only fair that if one has a complaint regarding a system, they propose a change to end the issue. As such, I propose this: amend the US Constitution to remove the President’s power to nominate judges. Then one may ask: who we should give that power to to ensure impartiality? I say give the power to nominate judges for confirmation to the chief judicial officer of the relevant court. In the case of the Supreme Court, the Chief Justice would nominate justices, the Chief Judge of an appeals circuit nominates appeals judges, and the Chief Judge of a district court would nominate district judges. Then, whenever the Chief Judge/Justice position becomes vacant, have the most senior judge assume the office should they wish (or go down the seniority list should the most senior decline). This would remove the political influence of the President (arguably the most political office in the nation), and allow for the judges of the relevant jurisdiction to pick nominees whose skill they’re sure of.