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Tuesday, January 10, 2006

A Judge's Client

Samuel Alito made a few good points in his opening statements yesterday before the Senate Judiciary Committee. One of the best of those points concerns who a judge works for. More correctly, WHAT a judge works for.

As he stated, a lawyer's job is to attempt to get a desired result in the case at hand. It doesn't matter if a lawyer is working for the abused wife in a divorce, or the chemical company in a civil suit, the job is to get the client the best result possible.

The Judge, though, doesn't have a true client. As Alito said yesterday in the Senate:



"But a judge can't think that way. A judge can't have any agenda . . . and a judge certainly doesn't have a client. The judge's only obligation -- and it's a solemn obligation -- is to the rule of law."

That is an important concept to keep in mind while these hearings are going on. Though I prefer to think of the law itself as the judge's client. While the attorney's are trying to twist the law, to fit the needs of a defendant or plaintiff, the judge is on the bench trying to maintain the law, for those of us not involved in that particular case.

When judges fail to do that, we end up with laws that are a mess, and more judges trying to figure out what previous decisions mean to current cases. When judges expand the meanings of a law confusion is what reigns.

Take the First Amendment as an example. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof... For many years (over 120) that was thought to have meant "The US Congress", in fact the writings of many of the founding fathers made that pretty clear. Then a court decided what "Congress Shall" really meant was "No Government Body", and viola, we had what is known as the separation doctrine.

For the better part of a century now we've had courts fighting over what is permissible under a doctrine that wasn't part of the law as it was written, or intended.

Judge Alito is correct, every judge's most important obligation is to uphold the law, not to rewrite it from the bench.

For a laugh (or cry), check out Below The Beltway's destruction of Ted Kennedy's opening statement.

Full Text of Alito's Opening
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1Comments:

Blogger shoprat said...

But the left believes that judges should have a client, namely the left.

12:56 PM  

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