As the country prepares to watch the hearings on a nomination to the Supreme Court, predictions abound as to how Judge Neil Gorsuch — if confirmed — would lean or even vote on this or that case. Indeed, toward the end of the presidential campaign, both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump detailed their ideal Supreme Court justice in debates by predicting how she or he would vote on a given issue or case. But these essentially political discussions tend to distort the role of judges in our government.
Our primary Framer for the courts was none other than Alexander Hamilton, of recently renewed fame. Describing the judiciary in Federalist 78 as the “least dangerous” of the three branches of government, Hamilton emphasized that the “complete independence of the courts of justice is peculiarly essential in a limited Constitution.” This “independence of the judges” is a most sacred tradition in U.S. constitutional law, requiring all judges to have no obligations to those who nominated or confirmed them.