15 Roger Williams U. L. Rev. 765 (2010)
What Makes Merit Selection Different

handle is hein.journals/rwulr15 and id is 773 raw text is: What Makes Merit Selection Different?
Rachel Paine Caufield, Ph.D.*
The framers of the American Constitution were clear in their
intent that the judicial branch should be free from political
influence. As Alexander Hamilton noted in Federalist No. 78,
good judges are few, and every care should to be taken to
guarantee that those who are best qualified will be appointed.'
Once appointed, they must be independent from politics, insulated
from both partisan influence and the public mood, free from the
damaging effects of political retribution.2 Although the federal
judiciary continues to exemplify many of these fundamental
ideals,3 states continue to debate these principles. At the core of
the debate is the fundamental notion of the importance of the
judge within a democratic system of justice.
Writing in 1922, Benjamin Cardozo noted that there is no
guarantee of justice . .. except the personality of the judge.4 The
heart and soul of any justice system is the judge, the impartial
arbiter who weighs competing arguments in the quest to
* Associate Professor, Drake University Department of Politics and
International Relations; Research Fellow, Elmo B. Hunter Citizens Center for
Judicial Selection, The American Judicature Society.
1. THE FEDERALIST No. 78 (Alexander Hamilton).
2. Id.
3. The federal judicial selection process has, throughout U.S. history,
been inherently and unabashedly political. For an excellent discussion, see
Johns Hopkins University Press 1998). While the process of selection may be
political, however, Article III judges in the federal system still retain tenure
for good behavior, as well as protection from declining salaries. This ensures
that, once seated, individual judges maintain decisional independence.
(Yale University Press 1922).


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