How can we insulate the Supreme Court from politics and cronyism? Follow Idaho’s model

It is sad that every vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court sets off a political feeding frenzy in Washington and throughout the country. It is as if a new appointee is intended to be a super legislator, rather than an impartial arbiter of disputes between and among citizens and the government. The whole process is infused with political overtones. Nowadays, it happens regardless of which party is in power.

It does not have to be that way.

In 1967, the State of Idaho enacted legislation to insulate judicial appointments from politics and cronyism. It has worked well and resulted in a corps of professional judges, who decide all sorts of legal disputes, both civil and criminal, in an even-handed manner.

When there is a district or appellate court opening, a seven-member Judicial Council gathers information on judicial candidates, publicly interviews the candidates, considers input from the legal community and public, and then sends a slate of 2-4 candidates to the governor for appointment. Magistrate judges are impartially selected by local magistrate commissions.

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I believe a similar process could be implemented on the federal level without transgressing provisions of the U.S. Constitution. Article 2, section 2 of the Constitution gives the president the power “by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate” to appoint judges of the Supreme Court. It seems like the Senate could exercise its advice and consent…

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