Judging the Judges

An outsize job, getting bigger

By trappings and tradition, judges are a secular priesthood, oracles of the law, the embodiment of justice.

Dressed in black robes, heralded into court by bailiffs crying "Hear ye! Hear ye! All rise!" and addressed as "Your Honor," judges are imposing, even intimidating. They are supposed to be: they have great power over people's lives, and increasingly, they use it.

But who are the judges? Former lawyers, former politicians.

Most commonly, lawyers who knew politicians. Some rise above their own human limitations, but more do not. Mostly,...

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