June 04, 2005
Justice McConnell?
Posted by Gordon Smith

Ann links to Tony Mauro's piece on Mike McConnell, which includes this in the second paragraph: "as scrutiny of his record intensifies, it's hard for many to decide exactly what McConnell is: conservative, liberal, or a perplexing blend of both." This sentence is emblematic of much that is wrong with the nomination process for Supreme Court justices. Mauro implies that most candidates for the position can be understood (and embraced or dismissed) by a single word, either "conservative" or "liberal." That is what they are. Those few who defy strict classification are a "perplexing blend of both."

Aren't most people a "perplexing blend of both"? Perhaps not in official Washington, but most ordinary people understand and respect someone like Mike McConnell, whose views are formed by study and faith rather than by expediency. He seems complex only because he is an honest seeker of truth who is not beholden to a party line. Such people are usually surprising.

Like Ann, I am one of the 300 or so law professors who signed a petition of support when Mike was nominated as an appellate court judge, and I have written about his possible nomination before. Ann wrote: "what I want is a real human being, a hardworking, serious scholar, who is not an ideologue, but someone we really can trust for the next thirty years. It will be a credit to President Bush if he picks Judge McConnell." Well said. I agree fully.

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