Friday, March 18, 2016

What does it take to be a Supreme Court Justice

The days when a former Governor (like Earl Warren or Frank Murphy) or Senator (Hugo Black) or civil rights litigator (Thurgood Marshall). - gwc

What Do You Need to be a Supreme Court Justice
by Ian Millhiser
IF someone could weaponize credentials — if a person could have a résumé so impressive that the mere sight of it could turn the tide of a war — that person would be Merrick B. Garland. Degrees from Harvard. A Supreme Court clerkship. A partnership in a multinational law firm. Multiple senior roles at the Department of Justice. Nineteen years on the second-most-powerful court in the country. Now he’s just one very challenging confirmation vote away from his own seat on the Supreme Court.
Judge Garland is more than just credentialed. He has dominated a profession that is obsessed with credentials. There’s a common joke that the practice of law is a pie-eating contest where the prize is more pie. The contest starts early: Undergraduates strive for spots at the country’s top law schools, and the treadmill continues for spots on law review, prestigious clerkships, associate jobs at the best firms and on to partnerships. Partners have more prizes to chase — a political appointment, a higher political appointment, maybe even a judgeship.
President Obama noted how well Judge Garland had climbed the ranks in his remarks announcing his nomination on Wednesday. “Merrick graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law, and the early years of his legal career bear all the traditional marks of excellence,” the president said.
The story of Judge Garland is one of impeccable credentials, and an ambitious person who racked up accomplishments until he was nominated for his dream job. But what does it say about the court and the law that our notion of who is unimpeachably qualified is so narrow — and growing even narrower still?

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