A Political Process

by Benjamin Correa | 11/13/02 6:00am

To the Editor:

I would like to respond to Tom White's letter in the Nov. 5 issue of The Dartmouth, criticizing the Editorial Board for endorsing Jeanne Shaheen based on her stance on abortion. Mr. White writes that a senator's vote on the confirmation of judges should not be a political issue because it would undermine "the ideal of a judiciary that is truly independent." I could not disagree more.

The appointment of judges to the federal judiciary is an inherently political process. Judges are nominated by a publicly-elected President and then confirmed by a publicly-elected Senate. In fact, one of the major benefits of controlling the presidency and the Senate is control of judicial appointees. Mr. White supports John Sununu's position that the right to choose should be left to the courts, yet Sununu will likely have to vote on the confirmation of at least one or two Supreme Court judges during his six year term in the Senate. The next few appointees are especially important because the court currently supports a woman's right to choose by a slim 5-4 margin. As well, President Bush has shown by his nominations to lower courts that he is committed to appointing a conservative judiciary.

The appointment of federal judges has always been a political process. The essence of an independent judiciary lies not in the selection of judges, but in their independence after they take the bench. Sununu's position represents a spineless evasion of the issue at hand instead of an understanding of the Senate's role.

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