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Federal Judges and the Heisman Trophy

15 Pages Posted: 7 Dec 2004  

Steven Goldberg

Georgetown University - Law Center (Deceased)


In recent articles, Choi and Gulati propose selecting as Supreme Court Justices those federal circuit court judges who are outstanding at their job. But if we look at various lists of highly successful Supreme Court Justices of the past we find precisely one Justice with lower federal court experience of any kind, while many distinguished federal circuit judges served with no distinction on the Supreme Court. It is those who served as governors, Senators, Attorneys General, judges on the highest state courts, and in private practice who show up on the lists of great Justices. Just as the Heisman Trophy, which is given to the best college football player each year, does not predict success in professional football, success on a lower federal court does not predict success on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Suggested Citation

Goldberg, Steven, Federal Judges and the Heisman Trophy. Florida State University Law Review, Vol. 32, 2005. Available at SSRN:

Steven Paul Goldberg (Contact Author)

Georgetown University - Law Center (Deceased)


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