Americans are engaged in an intense debate about the judicial branch of government. Some, including President Bush, worry that “activist judges” are abusing their authority by legislating from the bench. Others feel that the judiciary is properly protecting the fundamental rights of a free society. But how do the political leanings of judges affect their activity on the bench? To put it another way, Are Judges Political? And to what degree?
Brookings continued its Judicial Issues Forum series with a discussion of these questions, examining the impact of ideology on the federal judiciary. A group of leading legal analysts discussed the new Brookings book, Are Judges Political? An Empirical Analysis of the Federal Judiciary. Panelists included two of the co-authors of the book: Cass R. Sunstein, Brookings nonresident senior fellow and University of Chicago Law School Professor; and David Schkade, University of California, San Diego Professor. Joining them were Russell Wheeler, guest scholar at Brookings; and Benjamin Wittes, editorial writer at The Washington Post. Stuart Taylor, Jr., a nonresident senior fellow at Brookings and a writer for National Journal and Newsweek, moderated the panel.