It appears that policy changes are being resolved in the courts, and most specifically at the Supreme Court. If we look at recent court decisions involving abortion, the Affordable Care Act, Environmental Protection Act and gun rights, many people believe these decisions are politically motivated, especially when the politicians and media help to plant that seed by branding each Justice as liberal or conservative partisans.
In this episode, Jan speaks with the Honorable Thomas Griffith, former judge for the U.S. Court of the Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. They discuss when law becomes political and when politics becomes legal. They examine how politics affects the legal process and how the legal system tries to rule honorably in the face of politics and political issues.
A previous Early Returns guest, POLITICO senior legal affairs reporter Josh Gerstein, recently offered some thoughts during an award acceptance speech: “It often seems like litigation is replacing legislation as the preferred means of advancing one’s agenda in this country.” Jan asks: “Is litigation replacing legislation? What would someone from the judiciary say about that?” Judge Griffith shares his experiences being on the bench for 15 years and his views on how the media, politics, and a divided country fuel perceptions of the courts and its decisions.
About Hon. Thomas B. Griffith
After serving on the United State Court of Appeals for the D. C. Circuit from 2005, Judge Griffith stepped down from the bench in 2020. Currently he is a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, a Fellow at the Wheatley Institute at Brigham Young University, and Special Counsel in the Washington, DC office of the law firm of Hunton Andrews Kurth. Most recently, he was a member of President Biden's Commission on the Supreme Court.
He is the author of Civic Charity and the Constitution, and the co-author, along with former judges Michael Luttig and Michael McConnell, of Lost, Not Stolen: The Conservative Case that Trump Lost and Biden Won the 2020 Presidential Election. https://lostnotstolen.org/ .
Before being appointed to the D. C. Circuit, Judge Griffith was the General Counsel at BYU; Senate Legal Counsel, the non-partisan chief legal officer of the U. S. Senate; and a partner at Wiley, Rein & Fielding. Long active in rule-of-law programs in former communist nations, Judge Griffith is a member of the international advisory board of the CEELI Institute in Prague. He is a graduate of BYU and the University of Virginia School of Law and is a member of the American Law Institute.