A non-lawyer on the Supreme Court?

D.G. Martin

President Obama plans to appoint National Public Radio’s Nina Totenberg to the United States Supreme Court.

Not really, of course.

Totenberg may know more than most lawyers about the Supreme Court from her experience as an award-winning legal affairs correspondent for NPR.

But she is not a lawyer, and you have to be a lawyer to be on the court.

Don’t you?

No. The Constitution sets forth no such requirement. Article Two provides simply that the president “shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint ... Judges of the supreme Court.”

So the president could appoint Totenberg or any other non-lawyer, and he or she would take a seat on the court after confirmation by the United States Senate.

But, no, President Obama has not announced a plan to nominate Totenberg.

However, the possibility of a non-lawyer appointment to the court is the premise of a very believable fictional story written by Ed Yoder. His book is “Vacancy: A Judicial Misadventure.”

Yoder, grew up in Mebane and, like Totenberg, is a journalist who knows more about Supreme Court law than most lawyers. As a distinguished editorial writer and historian of American jurisprudence, he is the sort of non-lawyer who would be worthy of consideration for a Supreme Court seat.

See full article here.