How ought we to select judges? One possibility is that each of us should campaign for the selection of judges who will transform our own values and interests into law. An alternative is to select judges for their possession of the judicial virtues - intelligence, wisdom, courage, and justice. Stephen Choi and Mitu Gulati reject both these options and argue instead for a tournament of judges - the selection of judges on the basis of measurable, objective criteria, which they claim point toward merit and away from patronage and politics. Choi and Gulati have gotten something exactly right: judges should be selected on the basis of merit -we want judges who excellent. But Choi and Gulati have gotten something crucial terribly wrong: the selection of judges on the basis of measurable performance criteria would lead us away from true excellence. A tournament of judges would be won by judges who possess arbitrary luck and the vices of originality and mindless productivity; a tournament of virtue would be lost by those who possess the virtues of justice and wisdom. The judicial selection process should not be transformed into a game.
Courts | Judges | Jurisprudence | Public Law and Legal Theory
Date of this Version
Lawrence B. Solum, "A Tournament of Virtue" (September 2004). University of San Diego Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper Series. Working Paper 14.