What Does A Good Justice Look Like?

Tanner Avery

Director of The Center for New Frontiers

Tanner Avery
/ Blog
September 16, 2022

What Does A Good Justice Look Like?

"Judges must honor our founding principles – expansive personal freedom coupled with tightly constrained legislative and executive powers – which have preserved and protected this nation for more than 230 years."

“If you’re going to be a good and faithful judge, you have to resign yourself to the fact that you’re not always going to like the conclusions you reach. If you like them all the time, you’re probably doing something wrong.” – Antonin Scalia

With all of the recent debates regarding judicial activism and Montana’s upcoming Supreme Court Election we wanted to ask the question ‘What does a good justice look like?’ 

So we asked national leaders, William H. Mellor, chairman and founding general counsel of the Institute for Justice, and Robert A. Levy, chairman of the board of directors at the Cato Institute, to help answer this question. Here is what they had to say:

“Ideally, the judiciary should neither be immutably active nor passive. It should be vigorously engaged in securing our rights and limiting government power. When the legislative or executive branch exceeds its legitimate enumerated powers or fails to enforce constitutionally guaranteed rights, the courts have the authority, indeed the duty, to intervene.”

“Rather than decide cases according to subjective value judgments, judges should be following objective standards for interpreting laws and constitutional provisions. Results-oriented jurisprudence, focused on reaching a particular outcome, may be proper for a legislator, but not for a judge. His role is to apply the law, not impose his policy preferences.”

“Members of the Court must, therefore, have a theory of the Constitution – about separation of powers, federalism, limited government, and individual rights – and a consistent allegiance to that theory.”

“The lesson is straightforward:  Judicial engagement is essential to maintaining our liberties. Judges must honor our founding principles – expansive personal freedom coupled with tightly constrained legislative and executive powers – which have preserved and protected this nation for more than 230 years.”

By having a better understanding of what makes a Justice good, we may just be able to better hold our government accountable. Stay tuned as we will continue to provide insight into the balance of powers that is central to our system of government.

For Liberty,
Tanner Avery

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