May 19, 2005

Benjamin Franklin on picking federal judges.

So what did the actual Framers -- as opposed to the figments of senatorial imagination -- have to say about picking federal judges? They didn't seem to trust anyone very much. I liked this, from Benjamin Franklin:
Docr. Franklin observed that two modes of chusing the Judges had been mentioned, to wit, by the Legislature and by the Executive. He wished such other modes to be suggested as might occur to other gentlemen; it being a point of great moment. He would mention one which he had understood was practiced in Scotland. He then in a brief and entertaining manner related a Scotch mode, in which the nomination proceeded from the Lawyers, who always selected the ablest of the profession in order to get rid of him, and share his practice among themselves. It was here he said the interest of the electors to make the best choice, which should always be made the case if possible.

A real structural safeguard!


Gerry said...

Delightful, as most Franklin tales are.

Sadly, whenever anyone mentions Scotland in the context of the Senate, it just brings to my mind Arlen Specter's reliance on Scottish law.

Must be a Pennsylvania thing.

Knemon said...

Ha! Sen. Glenfiddich!

I didn't know Franklin was an accredited man ... maybe the "Dr." was just a title of respect?

DrTony said...

The quote is interesting in that it illustrates the competitive relationship of lawyers. If doctors have to nominate someone, we always try to get rid of the weakest one. This makes our life easier and is easiest to replace.

rafinlay said...

Alas, human nature being as it is, today's trial lawyers might have a SLIGHT tendency to nominate for judgeships someone who they thought might be inclined naturally to rule in a way which might favor the kind of cases they could imagine bringing.

Is that convoluted enough to avoid offending attorneys? Or just enough so only an attorney would understand there was any basis for offense?

Nick said...

Is that the Dilbert theory of promoting lawyers then? Make them judges?