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Friday
Nov152013

Assessing the Judicial Philosophy of Supreme Court Nominees in Delaware

The news out of Delaware is that Chancellor Strine has applied to be the Chief Justice of the Delaware Supreme Court.  According to the WSJ, there are four candidates for the position, including Justice Berger. The other two are judges on the Superior Court, Jan Jurden and James Vaughn.  

The ultimate decision will be made by the governor.  Speculation on the outcome is only that.  Nonetheless, to the extent that one of the goals is a particular judicial philosophy, the current set of candidates provide a possible avenue for achieving this result.  

In determining how a Justice might resolve a particular issue, one possibility would be to examine the individual's professional background.  A better approach would likely be to examine an individual's actual record in resolving the very types of issues that will likely come before the Court.    

In Delaware, this type of information exists.  Those on the Chancery Court have a record that can be examined.  Assuming this information is used in the selection process, it would suggest that the Chancery Court can be a stepping stone to the Supreme Court.  And, in fact, it is.  Until the retirement of Chief Justice Steele, three of the jurists on the Supreme Court (CJ Steele, and Justices Berger and Jacobs) first served on the Chancery Court. 

Chancellor Strine has a long record on the Chancery Court.  As a result, anyone seeking to determine his judicial philosophy will have a considerable number of decisions (and articles) to examine.  Moreover, his appointment would result in the Supreme Court again consisting of a majority of Justices with Chancery Court experience.  This will occur if he is appointed as Chief.  It will also occur if Justice Berger is appointed Chief and Chancellor Strine is appointed to fill her vacancy.  

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