Adjunct Law Prof Blog

Editor: Mitchell H. Rubinstein
New York Law School

Sunday, May 10, 2009

A Non-Judge Supreme Court Justice??

Another excellent posting from Legal Blog watch is Law Profs Urge Non-Judge for Souter Seat
It reports on two apparently well regarded law professors (Daniel J. Meador, James Monroe professor of law emeritus at the University of Virginia School of Law, was law clerk to Justice Hugo L. Black in 1954 and 1955. Kermit Roosevelt, professor of law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, was law clerk to Justice Souter in 1999 and 2000) who are calling on President Obama to point someone other than a sitting circuit judge. As the blog states:

Seven of the court's nine sitting justices are from the East Coast, six of the nine are graduates of Harvard Law School, and all came to the court from the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Meador noted. He urged President Obama to nominate someone who would offset this imbalance.

"What I'd like to see is a nominee that is different in every respect from those -- that is to say, a non-East Coaster, a non-Harvard Law School graduate, and a non-court of appeals judge -- because the court needs different perspectives," Meador said. "There's nobody on the court that has any experience in elective office. Nobody has served in the legislature. And these are perspectives that I think are seriously lacking from their deliberations."

I actually believe there is precedent for appointing non-judge Supreme Court Justices. I believe Hugo Black was a Senator before he was a Judge and Chief Justice Rehnquist had a senior legal position in the Nixon Administration-I think.

While I do not think being a judge is an absolute requirement to becoming a Supreme Court justice, I do believe that being a circuit judge is about the closest you can get to the Supreme Court and therefore it is an invaluable experience to have.

MItchell H. Rubinstein

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