Vetting a Non-Judge Supreme Court Candidate

May 20, 2010

President Obama’s nomination of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court raised a key research question: How do you research a non-judge?  Recent history, with President Bush’s nomination Harriet Meier, reveals that the media is more than willing to raise those questions and perhaps over emphasize the nominee’s lack of judicial experience.

Non-judges have served on the Supreme Court in the past.  Earl Warren served as the Court’s Chief Justice from 1953 until 1969.  According to Wikipedia, Warren never served as a judge prior to his nomination although he was the US Attorney General from 1939 until 1943 and served as the governor of California.  Vetting Chief Justice Warren during the non-digital age must’ve been harder without the on-line resources we use today.

Profiler-WLD is the profile database for attorneys and judges.  Besides case opinions, the database includes trial filings, journal articles and arbitration awards.  By searching Harriet Miers in Profiler-WLD’s template, you can uncover the cases, filings and secondary sources this attorney worked on or were mentioned in.  With the nomination of Elena Kagan, Westlaw editors created a profile for her.  Researching non-judge Supreme Court nominees just got easier in the digital age and the researcher doesn’t need to rely solely on the media.