When you need surgery, you want the best doctors. When your children are in school, you want the best teachers. If you want justice, you need the best judges.
But how do you measure the best judges?
Great judges come from all different law schools, many diverse legal careers before the bench, and from all sides of the ideological spectrum. The best judges marry a foundational commitment to the law with the wisdom and experience that comes from applying the law to really hard facts. Judges can earn acclaim by explaining complicated legal theories in a way that can be understood by everyone, regardless of their lack of legal education.
So, it should come as some surprise that recent high-profile examples of judicial candidates or nominees can hardly be described as having the characteristics of the best judges.
Colorado Magistrate Kato Crews was nominated by the Biden Administration for a District Court seat in that state. Magistrate Crews became Colorado’s first Black Magistrate in 2018. His nomination got off to a rough start in the Senate Judiciary Committee when he couldn’t answer a question about a “Brady” motion, a request by a criminal defendant to compel prosecutors to turn over favorable or exculpatory evidence.
Spokane Washington Superior Court Judge Charnelle Bjelkengren was nominated by the Biden Administration for a District Court seat in that state. Judge Bjelkengren was stumped by U.S. Senator John Kennedy with questions about Article II and Article V of the U.S. Constitution. These weren’t questions about obscure areas of Constitutional interpretation. Senator Kennedy was asking the nominee to identify what those Articles of the Constitution were. Article II outlines the executive branch of the federal government and Article V is the method by which the Constitution can be amended.
And the Biden Administration is not the only actor failing to put its best judicial foot forward. In Wisconsin, liberal voters nominated Judge Janet Protasiewicz to carry their banner in the state Supreme Court election. Judge Protasiewicz has issued sentences to criminal defendants that critics contend are excessively light for the violent nature of the crime or the vulnerable nature of the victims.
These nominees for judge and candidate for Justice fail the qualification test and are being promoted for their position because they meet the identity criteria the Left has prioritized for selecting lawyers to serve on the bench.
Just as patients are harmed by bad doctors and students are harmed by bad teachers, justice, victims, and the system at large are harmed by bad judges.
Let’s return to a system that prioritizes qualification and merit over identity to select the best judges.
– Andrew Wynne
Executive Director, Fair Courts America