February 14, 2016

SOME POST-SCALIA THOUGHTS: So it seems likely that the choice of a Supreme Court Justice to replace Antonin Scalia will be a major driving factor in the presidential election. And possibly even the major driving factor.

So if choosing a Supreme Court Justice is that important why not just have elections to fill the slot directly?

There are lots of important characteristics in a presidential candidate, and who he or she will pick for the Supreme Court is only one of them. But to the extent that that drives voters’ choices, it means that other important topics — economic philosophy, national defense, etc. — will get short shrift.

Also, with people living longer, these kinds of choices happen less often, and are more important when they do. How about electing Supreme Court Justices to a single 18-year term? It would bleed a lot of drama out of presidential elections, and force voters to think more about the Court directly.

Plenty of states have elected supreme courts, and they don’t seem to work any worse than states with appointed supreme courts, though they do seem more protective of things like the right to arms, which the public values more highly than the elite of the bar. That doesn’t seem so awful.

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