Archive for August 18th, 2008


Whose Yardstick

The Wall Street Journal has an interesting Review & Outlook piece on the recent unscripted Saddleback Church summit held Saturday in California.

Pastor Rick Warren asked each Presidential candidate which Justices he would not have nominated. Mr. McCain said, “with all due respect” the four most liberal sitting Justices because of his different judicial philosophy.  Mr. Obama took a lower road, replying first that “that’s a good one,” and then adding that “I would not have nominated Clarence Thomas. I don’t think that he, I don’t think that he was a strong enough jurist or legal thinker at the time for that elevation.

It was interesting to me that McCain pretty much took an expected party line response. It was certainly unexpected that singled out Justice Thomas as being “unqualified”. How does one measure that? At the time Thomas was selected, he had served in the Missouri Attorney General’s office, served as an Assistant Secretary of Education, run the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and sat for a year on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, the nation’s second most prominent court. Mr. Obama isn’t yet four years out of the Illinois state Senate, has never held a hearing of note of his U.S. Senate subcommittee, and had an unremarkable record as both a “community organizer” and law school lecturer. Is Obama qualified to be President?

So exactly what yardsticks are we supposed to use to measure the qualifications of our most important jurists and Presidents? Is it experience, or is it something else? And if it is something else, I’d like to know what the parameters of that something else are. I want to apply them equally in my decision process.