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Stephen Carter is the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law at Yale Law School. He has taught at Yale since 1982. Carter is known for his legal and social policy[…]

Judicial philosophy is something made up in the Op-Ed pages, Carter says.

Question: What is the best judicial philosophy?

Stephen Carter: I’ve written about the term “judicial philosophy” for many years, and I’ll say again what I’ve said many times: I don’t think such a thing exists. I think . . . I’m skeptical of the notion that there’s such a thing as judicial philosophy. And I think that when we see the term bandied about on the evening news, or on the Op Ed pages, it is simply a . . . It’s a __________. It’s a metaphor. It’s a metaphor for how would you decide cases? What would be the actual outcomes that you would reach? I am a lot less concerned with what outcomes a judge is going to reach than if a judge, like every public official, is going to do their job with a sense of humility. What worries me most in public life is power. What worries me is the exercise of power. And I think that judges in America should recognize – whether they’re on the local municipal court or the Supreme Court of the United States – that _________ with enormous authority, and that they should use it judiciously. Judiciously. I think they should act with a degree of humility. I think that judges should not be in the business . . . This is whether we think of them as conservatives or liberals, as simply trying to say, “At last I’m finally a judge! I can set things right!” That’s the worst attitude for anyone to have, whether it’s a judge, a president, a mayor, whoever it might be. I think that what is called for in people who have great power is great humility. And so whatever it may be that a judge’s philosophy might be, what is important to me is we believe the judge might exercise that philosophy with a degree of humility.

Recorded on: 7/25/07