The Judicial Bookshelf
Abstract:“In law, also, men make a difference,” 1 counseled Felix Frankfurter the year before his appointment to the Supreme Court. Frankfurter highlighted one of the three critical components of judicial decision-making in constitutional law: alongside the text of the Constitution itself and the cases that pose various questions for decision are the women and men who answer those questions. Those answers, as Frankfurter believed, are invariably influenced by the values Justices bring with them to the Bench. Yet he was expressing no newfound truth, but an awareness that had been apparent for a long time. “Impressed with a conviction that the true administration of justice is the firmest pillar of good government,” President George Washington wrote future Attorney General Edmund Randolph in 1789, “I have considered the first arrangement of the judicial department as essential to the happiness of our country and the stability of its political system.” To be sure, the Court's role in the political system was unclear, but Washington realized the impact the Court might have in the young Republic. This required, he told Randolph, “the selection of the fittest characters to expound the laws and dispense justice.” 2 And as he filled the six seats Congress had authorized for the Supreme Court, the first President made sure that each nominee was a strong supporter of the new Constitution.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: July 1, 2004