(What We Talk About When We Talk About) Judicial Temperament
67 Pages Posted: 13 Jan 2020
Date Written: January 10, 2020
Judicial temperament is simultaneously the thing we think all judges must have and the thing that no one can quite put a finger on. Extant accounts are scattered and thin, and they either present laundry lists of desirable judicial qualities without articulating what (if anything) unifies the list, or treat temperament as a fundamentally mysterious quality that a judge either does or does not not have. It is intellectually and practically intolerable to have so much—selection, evaluation, discipline, even removal—rest on so indeterminate a concept. Polarized debates over Justice Kavanaugh’s fitness to sit on the Supreme Court made clear just how badly we need a common vocabulary to guide what we talk about when we talk about judicial temperament.
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