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Selection of US Supreme Court Justices - Essay Example

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The selection and description of Supreme Court Justices is embodied in the Article 2 and 3 of the US Constitution as mere phrases: "The President. shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senateshall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law." ("U.S…
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Selection of US Supreme Court Justices
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The US Supreme Court Justice System is on par in terms of power and influence as the President and the Senate. The US Supreme Court is mandated to uphold the Constitution in any issue. It is to determine the constitutionality of a ruling rather than the determination of innocence or guilt, or the legality of an issue. It is thus of extreme importance that a Supreme court judge be thoroughly cognizant of the US Constitution and to be able to set aside ideologies whether social, political or cultural. Special interest groups should have no hand in influencing the selection process. (Salvato, 2005) The first nine Supreme Court Justices were named in 1789, but it was not until 1816 that the Senate authorized the formation of the Committee on the Judiciary for the explicit purpose of considering and confirming (or rejecting) the nomination of an associate or chief justice for the Supreme Court. It was only at this time that some sort of check and balance was deemed necessary because of the lack of specificity of the terms of the Constitution regarding the selection of justices. It gave the president too much leeway in selecting a nominee and left the confirmation of such an important post to the whims of a directionless Senate, who is supposed to "advice and consent". Note that deliberate and investigate is not included in this definition of the Senate's role in the justice selection. However, wise heads determined in 1816 that even if it was not subscribed in the Constitution, it should be established to confirm the legitimacy of the appointment. The system worked quite well but in 1987 the proceedings became quite contentious enough to arouse public interest. It was in the nomination of Robert Bork and the Roe v. Wade case that the Senate hearings became a matter of public debate.
However, no other case has attained this level of public notice with regard to Supreme Court Justice selections since and between 1994 and 2005 was quiet because it was time that the nine members of the Supreme Court remained constant. This ended with the retirement of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor in July of 2005 and the death of Chief Justice William Rehnquist in September of that same year. President Bush found himself in a position compelled to name successors to the two vacancies. President Bush complied by naming John Roberts and first Harriet Miers and then Samuel Alito to fill the positions. (Dorsen, 2006) This sparked renewed interest in the process of selecting and confirming justices to the Supreme Court. This paper seeks to provide an overview of this process as well as the political aspects that has influenced the process in recent years. A brief description of the nominations of Roberts, Miers and Alito will serve as case studies to illustrate the current procedures and practices.
The Process and the Politics
Federal judges are assured of their positions for life or until resignation "during good behavior" as mandated by Article II of the US Constitution. This is to ensure that confirmed judges are free to rule on ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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