A judge's thoughts on judges and the Constitution

(Note: From time-to-time we get the arm-chair Constitutionalists giving their indoctrinated observations about what the US Constitution is and isn't. My guess, like most of us, their experience with the court system is a traffic ticket, divorce proceedings or some other minor infraction. Nothing that would actually provide any fiber into the intellectual stuffing of their arm-chair conjectures. Such cardboard bantering reminds of the little kids who are all pumped up to see Santa Claus and then clam up when they meet him face-to-face. I found the quote below an interesting observation of a real judge on the workings of the highest court of our land.)

"Justice Douglas, you must remember one thing. At the constitutional level where we work, ninety percent of any decision is emotional. The rational part of us supplies the reasons for supporting our predilections."

Supreme Court Justice Charles Evans Hughes

"I thought of the law in the terms of Moses -- principles chiseled in granite. I knew judges had predilections. I knew that their moods as well as their minds were ingredients of their decisions. But I had never been willing to admit to myself that the 'gut' reaction of a judge at the level of constitutional adjudications, dealing with the vagaries of due process, freedom of speech, and the like, was the main ingredient of his decision. The admission of it destroyed in my mind some of the reverence for the immutable principles. But they were supplied the Constitutions written by people in conventions, not by judges. Judges are, after all, not creative figures; they represent ideological schools of thought that are highly competitive. No judge at the level I speak of was neutral. The Constitution is not neutral. It was designed to take the government off the backs of people, and no wiser man than Hughes ever sat on our (US Supreme) Court. I say that although his predilections, drawn from a different age, were not always mine. I never, for example, could envision (Supreme Court Justice Charles Evans) Hughes in a boxcar filled with Wobblies (IWWs) roaring across the dusty plains of Washington State at night, but it was not difficult to picture Hugo Black, Wiley Rutedge, Felix Frankfurter and Frank Murphy there. I could, however, imagine Hughes as an advocate pleading our cause or as a judge putting imperishable words the tolerance which governments show even the most lowly of us."

William O. Douglas
US Spreme Court Justice (1939-1975)
from The Court Years

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