The Supreme Court has the constitutional right to declare the "supreme law of the land," so the appointment of justices is a crucial aspect of the American judicial system.
However, according to Princeton provost Christopher Eisgruber, the current system is subpar and in dire need of reform.
Eisgruber visited the Penn Bookstore yesterday to promote his new book, The Next Justice, in which he prescribes criteria for change by outlining four major points in the "broken" appointment process that he says ought to be repaired quickly.
The issue is especially pressing during a presidential campaign, since the next president will likely be granted a Supreme Court appointment, Eisgruber said.
Believing Supreme Court decisions to be undeniably influenced by the values of justices, Eisgruber claimed that these values must not be overlooked in the appointment process. It is also important for nominees to the Supreme Court to express firm ideas about the judicial role and its limits to get a sense of their perceived duties as a justice.
Eisgruber also suggested that presidents ought to consider the ideological and political composition of the Supreme Court when making appointments, rather than appointing individuals based on partisan ties.
Furthermore, nominees should bear the "burden of proof," as Eisgruber called it. Nominees ought to vocalize their standpoints and take the initiative in rebutting or confirming presumptions about themselves. Senators can also improve the appointment process by asking deep, open-ended questions that would reveal how the nominee might operate as a justice.
Perhaps the most important aspect of reform, Eisburger said, is that presidents should make an effort to appoint moderates - whether liberal or conservative - since they are often confirmed more quickly than extremists and better represent the values of the American citizenry.
Supreme Court justices, he argued, should be impartial and open-minded, not plagued by stark partisan divisions. To find true moderates, Eisgruber recommended looking beyond Washington insiders, since Capitol Hill instills a partisan mentality that should be spurned on the Supreme Court.
Eisgruber drew on episodes from previous Supreme Court decisions and appointments by Presidents Dwight Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush to illuminate his points.
Eisgruber currently teaches in the Public Affairs department at Princeton and formerly served on the faculty of the New York University School of Law.Comments powered by Disqus
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