I recently came upon an advertisement (as I am certain many of you have) promoting Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch. I do not challenge the accuracy of the ad or the sincerity of the law clerk who delivered it. I would only hope that my own former law clerks would speak of me in such glowing terms if called upon. But we are not talking used cars here; we are talking about the Supreme Court!
If, as I suspect, its obvious purpose is to seek public acceptance of the nominee, (assuming that in and of itself is appropriate), the public hearings before the Senate is the venue where such acceptance should be sought. Furthermore, the need or desire for such acceptance is questionable as well. The public has slowly been convinced that accountability of judges has become a mantra; that judges who make popular decisions are qualified and those who make unpopular ones are not---the “so-called judges”. But in reality unpopular judges can be the most qualified. Despite upholding constitutional rights, judges who rule in favor of those accused of crimes are rarely popular---they are labelled “weak on crime”. Unfortunately the public is being convinced that this is the way to judge judges. In state court elections, judges tout the number of death penalties that they have either imposed or have permitted to stand.
I admit I am old school. I winced when lawyers were given leave to ambulance chase on TV---ads showing a lawyer in a swimming pool in an obvious rich setting, smoking a cigar (a subliminal message of wealth suggesting that being rich equates with good lawyering) The viewer is asked to call a telephone number (which is then usually shifted over to someone else in the pool---not the water one---but the pool of advertisers). But now to see the hawking of Supreme Court nominees to my mind is going too far, no matter how accurate or dignified the ad or qualified the candidate If we are going to sell anything to the public about the Supreme Court, let it be about the Bill of Rights and respect for the Justices who enforce them rather than those who seek the opportunity to join them.