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BYU Professor Wants Reform To Supreme Court Nomination Process

PROVO, Utah – A BYU professor has advocated for reforms to the selection process to the United States Supreme Court after what he said is a process that has become more and more political.

“I think those days are gone, when you could just look at the merits of a nominee and say this person belongs on the court,” said Richard Davis, a political science professor at Brigham Young University.Davis has researched the Supreme Court extensively and written two books. He said nominations to the high court have become more divisive – first beginning in 1968 – but has accelerated with the past few nominations.

“President nominates, Senate typically confirms to one where interest groups are involved, media is involved, and when that happens, then you have a process that is very political,” he said.

While Davis believed it is healthy to properly vet a nominee, he said the focus has been more on political ideology than judicial experience. Confirmation hearings have become a soapbox for politicians that play out on cable TV.

Richard Davis, a political science professor at Brigham Young University.

“You have the Democrats portray the nominee one way, the Republicans another way, (and) when they get on the court, they are tagged. They are their person or their person,” he added.

Davis has advocated reforms to the court, beginning with term limits for the nine justices, which would allow for an automatic replacement every two years.

“If we had an 18-year term limit for justices, then we would know when they are going to leave the court, and there wouldn’t be this concern about, when is the next time we are going to have a nomination,” he said.

Davis also said the country needs a bipartisan nominating commission, focused on finding impartial jurists. Davis believes both parties need to act to keep politics from overtaking the highest court in the land.

“Give the president three or five names from that group, and this is who you need to choose from,” he said.

Davis believes Monday night’s prime time announcement was in essence, a Trump campaign event.

“He wants as much attention as he can get to this, because he thinks it is going to help him in the 2018 midterm elections and help him with his conservative base – and it is Donald Trump, he loves a show,” Davis said.

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