Amongst the many concepts discussed in Soren Kierkegaard's philosophy was the "leap of faith". Kierkegaard argued that doubt was a critical prerequisite for true faith -- in his view, without doubt one can never make the rejection of rationality necessary to experience true faith.
There's been much written over the last several years concerning the public's doubts about -- its lack of faith in -- its judiciary. To some extent, this doubt is a very rational reaction to the immense authority possessed by the judiciary over many aspects of our lives. Perhaps compounding that natural anxiety is our realization that judges are human players in a falliable system and that many are appointees whose selections seem at odds with the election processes favored by our democratic society. If Kierkegaard was correct, we must not avoid our rational doubts, but should examine them and move beyond them if we are to restore and maintain some measure of faith in the judiciary. Surely the stakes for the legal profession in particular and American society more generally are high enough to merit some attention to issues of judicial selection and independence.
So, you may be wondering, why am I trying to link Kierkegaard with discussions of judicial selection and independence? It's a fair question; after all, something would have to have been rotten in the State of Denmark for Soren Kierkegaard to pause to consider the state of the American judiciary.
The link, tenuous though it may be, is legal blogger I. M. Kierkegaard, who is spreading the word about the upcoming symposium, "Rethinking Judicial Selection: A Critical Appraisal of Appointive Selection for State Court Judges". The symposium will be held on Friday April 7, 2006 at the Fordham University School of Law in New York City. According to Kierkegaard (the still-breathing I. M., not the long-deceased Soren), "Papers will be published in the distinguished Fordham Urban Law Journal in the Summer of 2006. The Symposium will feature panels comprised of distinguished jurists, law professors, and political science professors from all over the country. Registration is free for the event, but encouraged in advance. RSVPs are encouraged by April 3, 2006." More information is available at his website.
While you're there, I encourage you to wander around a bit and read some of the intelligent and topical writing at this very worthwhile legal blog. I. M.'s commentary is both accessible and thought-provoking; moreover, it's quite rational, so you don't need to make any leaps of faith.