It’s appropriate at this time to recycle a quote from Justice Scalia that I ran here three years ago regarding judges and their prior public positions on issues, in a case regarding Minnesota’s regulations of speech by candidates for election to the bench:
A judge’s lack of predisposition regarding the relevant legal issues in a case has never been thought a necessary component of equal justice, and with good reason. For one thing, it is virtually impossible to find a judge who does not have preconceptions about the law. As then-Justice Rehnquist observed of our own Court: “Since most Justices come to this bench no earlier than their middle years, it would be unusual if they had not by that time formulated at least some tentative notions that would influence them in their interpretation of the sweeping clauses of the Constitution and their interaction with one another. It would be not merely unusual, but extraordinary, if they had not at least given opinions as to constitutional issues in their previous legal careers.” Indeed, even if it were possible to select judges who did not have preconceived views on legal issues, it would hardly be desirable to do so. “Proof that a Justice’s mind at the time he joined the Court was a complete tabula rasa in the area of constitutional adjudication would be evidence of lack of qualification, not lack of bias.” [Quoting same Rehnquist opinion] The Minnesota Constitution positively forbids the selection to courts of general jurisdiction of judges who are impartial in the sense of having no views on the law. Minn. Const., Art. VI, Sec. 5 (“Judges of the supreme court, the court of appeals and the district court shall be learned in the law”). [A]voiding judicial preconceptions on legal issues is neither possible nor desirable . . .
(Emphasis added; citations omitted).