The Law: Judging Carter's Judges

Merit—along party lines

Why not the best? Nowhere was the theme of Candidate Jimmy Carter's autobiography more explicit than in his campaign promises on the administration of justice. Said he: "All federal judges and prosecutors should be appointed strictly on the basis of merit, without any consideration of political aspects or influence." But, lo and behold, merit has turned up, as it so often does in politics, apportioned according to party lines.

The presidential nominations to date:

U.S. circuit courts—ten Democrats, no Republicans;

U.S. district courts—21 Democrats, no Republicans;

U.S. attorneys—55 Democrats, one Republican.

Faced with political realities, Carter backed away from a plan to have independent...

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