Elena Kegan has been nominated as the next Supreme court Justice. I am not certain about her nomination, though I have something to say in general. While Bush was busy appointing the most reactionary right wing extremists he could to the court, I said that nominees should be neither liberal nor conservative, but moderate and centrist. Since I aspire to be a man for all seasons [great play by Robert Bolt], now that we have a president of whom I approve, I will repeat, we need nominees to the federal judiciary at all levels to be moderate centrists. Conservatives and liberals both have private political agendas which should not be allowed to so strongly influence the nation which is occupied the rest of us.
I think she might be a good choice since liberals are upset that she is not sufficiently left wing for them. Since I doubt that Obama would actually nominate a conservative, especially not one of those odd creatures who have taken over the name in recent decades, I am willing to assume that she meets my standards in this area.
This brings us to an area in which I am not in support of her nomination. I believe that judges with a known track record and experience in actually making decisions regarding constitutional maters should be considered. I know that Earl Warren and several others are said to belie this conviction, but I sincerely believe that experience matters and that a track record helps to identify the nominee as of a particular bent in making decisions.
I want to add that I have always felt of divided mind on the issue of nominees answering questions regarding decisions they might have to make. It seems to me that a general question does not obligate a particular decision, and that even if it did, justices are allowed to change their minds. When commentators agree that nominees should refuse to answer specific questions about specific issues, I am puzzled. This insistence means that you can ask anything about a nominee, except how he or she will do the job for which you are hiring them for life. Imagine hiring a teacher and not being able to ask them how they will teach or what their beliefs are regarding curriculum. It makes no sense.
On the other hand, could anyone in today’s polarized political atmosphere ever be elected if they did answer such questions? I doubt it.