Thomas Jefferson once said that a judge should be “a mere machine.”
What did he mean by that? Well, a machine follows the directions of the maker, so he was saying judges are supposed to follow the directions of legislators who make the law, whether they like the law or not.
A lot of political experts these days like to measure judges by whether they’re conservative or liberal, but that’s not really the correct measuring stick. The role of a judge is to enforce laws that have been constitutionally enacted.
A few years ago, a justice on the Wisconsin Supreme Court explained Jefferson’s philosophy like this: she said that if a state’s highest court is working as it should, it will issue conservative rulings when conservatives control the legislature, and liberal rulings when liberals are writing the laws. The idea is for judges and their rulings to be predictable.
Let’s be fair, judges who set aside politics and enforce the law give institutions and job providers the confidence they need to grow. That’s something America needs now more than ever.
Find out more. Go to our website at FoundationForFairCivilJustice.org.
Bob Dorigo Jones, who serves as Senior Fellow for the Foundation for Fair Civil Justice, is the author of the bestselling Remove Child Before Folding, The 101 Stupidest, Silliest and Wackiest Warning Labels Ever. He is the host of a new national radio/Internet commentary, “Let’s Be Fair.”