The Law is arguably the backbone of all society. It is the set of rules which governs the affairs of men and regulates the activities between human beings. Without the law, the world would be plunged in utter chaos as the powerful would oppress the weak and the rule of man would be naught. The law is an integral element in the preservation of peace and order in society and as such lawyers also play a great role in maintaining this balance as advocates of the law.
These scholars of the law are primarily there not to be wealthy but to render a very important service to society; to protect the freedoms and rights of people. As such, the decision of selecting who will constitute members of the highest court of the land is of the utmost importance if man is to maintain the relative peace and order situation and to continue enjoying the freedoms that man has become accustomed to. In understanding why the nominations of John Rutledge, John Spencer, William B.
Hornblower and Robert H. Bork were rejected and what qualifications are important in order to be approved. There is no doubt, at this point, that the practice of law is indeed a very important matter. In attempting to define these qualifications, it is important that one first define what a good lawyer or an ideal lawyer is. As advocates of the law, lawyers are expected to exercise a certain degree of knowledge and expertise of the law.
Lawyers cannot be ignorant of the very covenant that they have sworn to uphold and as such must possess a degree of knowledge that enables them to make the proper decisions and give the proper advice to their clients or any person who needs legal assistance. Similarly, members of the Supreme Court are also expected to possess such qualifications. There are three main considerations for any members of the Supreme Court according to the Elder Witt and Joan Biskupic in their piece entitled, Congressional Pressure on the Justices: Selection and Rejection.
These are minimum constitutional qualifications such as age, citizenship and judicial experience, competence, which include their judicial record, partisan politics, which is the most difficult because it covers the stand that these nominees have regarding certain issues, senatorial courtesy, which is simply just politicking. As such, these criteria are determinative of whether or not a nominee will get the approval required for the much coveted Supreme Court seat. A good example of a nomination that was rejected for partisan politics considerations was the nomination of John Rutledge for Chief Justice of the United States.
Nominated by none other than George Washington himself, John Rutledge was a solid candidate who had a distinguished record of judicial service. However, due to certain stands that he had concerning the Jay Treaty, he was viewed as an unstable candidate. To quote the decision, “[t]he excited political situation was such that irrespective of Rutledge’s mental condition his rejection by the Senate was certain”. It is clear that while John Rutledge may have been ideal, the minor bouts of insanity that he had were detrimental for his bid to become a Supreme Court Justice.