(What We Talk About When We Talk About) Judicial Temperament

67 Pages Posted: 13 Jan 2020

See all articles by Terry A. Maroney

Terry A. Maroney

Vanderbilt University - Law School

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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.

Suggested Citation

Maroney, Terry A., (What We Talk About When We Talk About) Judicial Temperament (January 10, 2020). Vanderbilt Law Research Paper No. 20-01. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3517559 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3517559

Terry A. Maroney (Contact Author)

Vanderbilt University - Law School ( email )

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