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Letters to the Editor

Judges: Originalists vs. progressives

| Sunday, Nov. 5, 2017, 9:00 p.m.

Vetting for the judiciary is a particularly challenging exercise because, as it should be, judicial candidates are prohibited from expressing publicly their views on particular issues, thus exhibiting their endeavor for impartiality. Therefore, the onus falls on voters to understand philosophically what they seek in a judicial candidate.

Naturally, each judge's personal views fall somewhere on a broad spectrum. An originalist reveres the U.S. Constitution as a document intended to enshrine timeless, universal, fundamental principles into a form of government whose task is to defend the greatest degree of individual freedom possible. A judge of this disposition will tend to adhere closely to what is written in the document, interpreting text against a backdrop of its original intent.

A progressive will revere the U.S. Constitution as a crucial historical element in the advancement of the human condition but esteems that evolving times necessitate changes in policy and principle which might not be aptly reflected in the Constitution as written. A judge of this disposition is inclined to seek decisions he or she believes better suit the needs of the era and hopes to shape future policy through precedent.

Therefore, it becomes incumbent on the voter to determine if he or she wishes to empower judges who intend to uphold the original intent of the Constitution or those who seek to reshape policy based on current trends. This is the homework of the voter.

Stacey West

Sewickley Heights

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