October 10, 2005

Of What Worth Are Nerds?

Well, I'd say they're worth a lot. Hugh Hewitt doesn't seem to think so though. In discussing the reactions to Harriet Miers Hewitt takes particular exception to the idea that Supreme Court Justices should all be brainiacs.

The idea that Miers cannot go toe to toe with the giant brains on the Supreme Court is a very odd argument, on a number of fronts. It assumes that the business of judging is very difficult and that only scholars and intellectuals are suited to the task[.]

This reminds me of an episode of the West Wing when, during Bartlett's reelection campaign, two of the characters are discussing the Republican contender, who prides himself on his folksey personality while being downright hostile towards intellectualism. The conservative character made an argument that was somewhat similar to what Hewitt's saying here. The more liberal character replied that while doctorates and nobel prizes aren't required to be president, or for our purposes Justice of the Supreme Court, in a country of nearly 300 million people we should be able to find someone that is personable and all that while still having a certain amount of gravitas.

Hewitt goes on to suggest that Constitutional Law simply isn't that hard and doesn't require the smartest person in the world to do the job. To be perfectly honest, I agree with Hewitt on this part: Consitutional Law really isn't full of difficult concepts. Then again, the "self-evident"conclusions that I come to are going to be completely different from the "self evident" conclusions that Hewitt will come to.

I got this link over at the Volokh Conspiracy, and Orin Kerr makes some good points. It's exactly these sorts of dichotomies that should lead us to searching out clever, smart, educated, and intelligent Justices. And like Kerr says, it might very well be fair to say that extensive experience, and the thoughtful reflection that comes with it, can be a good substitute for natural brilliance, but Miers has niether; at least that I've seen. But at the bottom of it all we're talking about the Supreme Court. We get to put nine people in a group to decide the most important issues of the day. Nine people. That's a pretty exclusive club; shouldn't we be choosey about the people we let on?

I don't think the argument is that Harriet Miers can't possibly comprehend the issues before the Court, it's just that we can do better.

"Though we'll always be apart / Locked forever in a dream / If I ever love again / Even then, nothing will change"

1 comment:

Dan Brottman said...

"Beautiful Maria of My Soul" - Los Lobos