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April 09, 2010

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That is a very thoght provoking post. Does it take a Lawyer to interpret the Constituion? Not sure how I think about that. Clearly the Court would be improved by increasing the diversity of knowledge instead of focusing on race/gender or pro-life/choice(death)

Sadly I do not think that the political environment ever wants the Truly best candidate for the position, rather they look for the person whose position is best for the politics

Interesting question! Cass Sunstein is on some of the short list; he's not a PhD economist but highly economically literate.

Since the 1960s Henry Manne has been running economics seminars for Federal judges and for law professors, hoping to increase the amount of economic literacy in judicial decision-making and legal education. Some assessments of this work are at

http://ssrn.com/abstract=1094904

and

http://www.law.gmu.edu/econ/history.html

I'd say that a randomly selected name from the membership directory of the American Law and Economics Association would make a better Supreme Court judge that the person we'll eventually get.

Uhhh... maybe because economists are all a bunch of market-worshiping idiots who have no real clue what they're doing?

Why isn't there a journalist on your staff ?

Mitt Romney graduated cum laude from Harvard law School and was a Baker Scholar for top 5% of MBA class. He actually has real-life accomplishment in the business world.
That being said, I doubt he would ever be nominated by Right/Left, or even allow himself to take a position.

Our Court needs another woman. Charles Blow of the NYTimes wrote a piece today about why a woman is needed. Additionally, Justice Ginsburg gave an interview with USA Today and said that our Court needs a 5/4 gender split. Sandra Day O'Conner ( in Mr. Blow's article) talked of our paltry representation of women on our Court.
Women are 51% of our country. Put another woman on our Supreme Court.

I think a non-judge would be fine, Retired Justice O'Connor has actually called for that sort of diversification. But - with only 3 women ever to serve on the court in its 220 years, nominating another woman should be our focus. There are plenty of qualified women, on the short list, and "economic experts" to satisfy your criterion.

Here's an idea. Why not nominate someone who knows the constitution? The job of a Supreme Court justice is to decide whether a law viloates the constitution. Period. End of discussion.

What a terrific idea. An Obamanomics appointee, where exactaly could that go wrong........please kill yourself.

The problem with people, and the court, is they expect the court to rule on emotions. The court should, and mostly does, rule on the law. In Kelo, they ruled that the law was written, in such a way, as to allow Kelo. They also said that State Legislatures could refine their laws and Congress could enact laws which would make the seizings more restricted. There have been some states that changed their laws, I'm not sure that Congress has done much.

Liberals are more apt to rule with their feelings, rather than the law, which tends to really screw things up. It's really tough to legislate feelings so, when you find a right, in the Constitution, where there is none, it takes another Supreme Court to overturn it. That's when you have 40 years of court fights and interpretations and a divided country. Legislation is the best way to solve problems, which is why Roe v. Wade is so unpopular, the Supremes made it law rather than doing it legislatively. Not too bright.

With Health Care, we really do need to court to rule on the Commerce Clause. If Congress can use the Commerce Clause to justify this health care legislation, they can use it for anything. If the court doesn't rule parts of this bill unconstitutional, it may be time to hold a constitutional convention to reign in the commerce clause. I won't blame the justices too much, if they refuse to do it, they're ruling on law and precedent.

"Supreme Court needs an economist"

And you, Mr Kane, need a brain in your head

No, we don't need an economist on the bench. Appellate judges, which is what Supreme Court Justices are, are not supposed to make decisions based on the EFFECTS of laws. They are supposed to rule on the CONSTITUTIONALITY of laws - does the constitution allow legislators to do what it is they are trying to do, or not. The Justices already have plenty of resources for determining the validity of validity of supporting or opposing arguments.

Can we PLEASE stop trying to pick justices based on their skin color, their gender, their level of empathy, etc.? It's not possible to eliminate the affects of those characteristics on the decisions of the Justices, but that should be LIMITED as much as possible, not promoted.

Wow, feisty boodle. A brain in my head? No comment. A journalist on staff. Check (Ben W). More women on the court instead of 1 economist? Not mutually exclusive. Plus, note the name Christina Romer.

Now, let's be clear. I am a hard core Constitutionalist. I believe the only thing "living" about the Constitution is its ability to be amended, not the faddish interprative actisim of recent decades. But I think an economist would do wonders to debunk the activism that got out of hand.

I like what Jim Temple had to say, but don't have time to comment on it. The Market Worship Temple bell just rang ...

What a load of nonsense.

SCOTUS interprets the law.

Next, you will want a doctor, because medicine is the life giving profession.

Or how about an environmentalist....yeh, that's the ticket.

How do people get to the point in their life where they are allowed to write this kind of tripe.

"Now, let's be clear. I am a hard core Constitutionalist"

Why do I always shudder, when anyone from the president down, says "now let me be clear" because usually that means the opposite of clear.

The fact you say you are a "hard core constitutionalist" is amazing, considering all you want to do is amend the Constitution. Rather it is the legal interpretation of the Constitution as written that should be the focus - best achieved by jurists rather than economists, bakers and candlestick makers who will continually amend the Constitution to suit the whims of presidents and politicians.

The Constitution is designed for the benefit of "The People" not presidents and politicians who may seek power for their own interests.

Great idea, but it overlooks a key hitch.

Economics is essentially a branch of philosophy recognizing that there's no such thing as a free lunch and isn't afraid to keep asking the question, And then what? In view the supreme court's Article 3 authority to nullify the political branches' unconstitutional and fiscally reckless hijinks, a Justice who thinks like an economist seems just what the supreme court needs.

But here's the hitch: The law as promulgated determines the outcomes of cases and not the predilections, preferences or philosophies of the Justices. Therefore, even if ObamaCare is wantonly reckless from a fiscal viewpoint and is founded on a pack of political lies, the supreme court can't nullify it on such grounds. Hence, what good could an economist do under these circumstances?

The foregoing notwithstanding, a jurist or lawyer with extensive training in economics would be an invaluable ally to Justices Scalia, Thomas, Roberts (CJ) and Alito should they decide to reform (i.e. overturn) their predecessors' woefully ignorant and illogical precedents concerning the commerce clause (e.g. Wickard v. Filburn - a farmer who produces wheat for self-consumption affects interstate commerce, thus entitling Congress to impose quotas on him).

Follow Wickard to its logical conclusion, and it empowers Congress to regulate all productive human activity by employing the most heinous artifices (e.g. imposing a tax on this post). Can our liberty survive the assaults of a federal government thusly empowered? Not indefinitely, which is Wickard and its progeny eventually need to be overturned, and an economically literate Justice would conduce to such an effort.

Well when this thing called the 'Constitution' was in vogue, justices didn't need to know any economics. Following the Constitution was the best proxy. In these days of ever-changing, ever-malleable constitution, however, we do need economic understanding

Nice idea, but isn't the first criterion knowing the law? How about an economics-savvy lawyer instead?
Typo: "Stevens" not "Stephens."

Economists can't agree about much, so an economist Justice would be just as likely as a non-economist to get his economics wrong. That is, just as likely to make a policy decision (and yes, or COURSE the Supreme Court makes policy, and is supposed to) with profoundly bad effects on the national economy. To the extent that economists DO agree on relevant points, the lawyers will most assuredly find a way to tell non-economist Justices about it. So your idea will not do much good.

But it could do a lot of harm. Economists are trained to think in terms of maximizing wealth, not rights or happiness. Given that so many important cases arise from a conflict between one side's property rights and another's civil rights or essential needs, do we really need a Justice who will reflexively vote in favor of property rights every time? Don't we have enough Justices like that on the Court already?

The is no economist because there are far more deserving people than them in terms of assigning to the court. I'm not saying that they are no good but there are just more people who could do the job better.

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