Supreme Court Nominations

Scalia Says He’s Glad Kagan Isn’t a Judge

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All nine of the current justices on the U.S. Supreme court were federal judges before their elevation, but the nominee to replace Justice John Paul Stevens has no such experience. And that’s a good thing, according to Justice Antonin Scalia.

In a speech sponsored by Catholic University’s Columbus School of Law, Scalia said being a judge was not a requirement in the past. And he’s glad that nominee Elena Kagan has a different background. ABC News and the Washington Post reported on his remarks.

“When I first came to the Supreme Court [in 1986], three of my colleagues had never been a federal judge,” Scalia said. “William Rehnquist came to the bench from the Office of Legal Counsel. Byron White was deputy attorney general. And Lewis Powell … was a private lawyer in Richmond and had been president of the American Bar Association.”

“I am happy to see that this latest nominee is not a federal judge—and not a judge at all,” Scalia said.

The National Law Journal has additional details. Scalia said judicial selection has become so politicized that presidents are reluctant to nominate anyone from outside the judiciary, both for the Supreme Court and the federal appeals courts. “The people who typically get nominated to the federal bench get promoted right through the system,” he said.

Scalia views the promotion system as “dangerous” because it follows the “European system” of professional judges that has produced a bench of “ultimate bureaucrats.”

Updated at 8 a.m. to include coverage from the National Law Journal.

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