Orrin Hatch: Why the appointment of federal judges is so important

Pablo Martinez Monsivais, Associated Press

Senate Judiciary Committee member Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, right, accompanied by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 21, 2017, during the committee’s confirmation hearing for Supreme Court Justice nominee Neil Gorsuch. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Two weeks ago, the Senate confirmed the nominations of four women and men to the U.S. Court of Appeals. Each holds the American Bar Association’s highest rating and is highly regarded throughout the legal profession. Each was supported by home-state senators, both Democrats and Republicans. Yet these superb nominees received between 38 and 41 votes against them.

With nearly 140 life-tenured judicial positions vacant, and President Donald Trump steadily sending nominees to the Senate for review, it is worth taking a step back to remind ourselves why the appointment of federal judges is so important.

Our system of government came together by design, not by accident. The Constitution’s preamble lists the purposes of that design, including justice, domestic tranquility, common defense, the general welfare and the “blessings of liberty.” Our system of government will produce these results only if it works as envisioned.

America’s Founders designed the judiciary to be what they called the “weakest” and “least dangerous” branch. Judges are supposed to settle real legal disputes by impartially interpreting and applying the law. They are to take the law as it is, as the people and their elected representatives choose to fashion it. In this way, the American people stay in control of the government.

Some presidents, however, have appointed political…

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