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politics, it is the orator who butts in and ruins everything. The soap-box orators are not the only variety who rely on their imaginations for their facts and their memories for their wit—and, who endeavor to make a great display of very small knowledge. We find such men in responsible and important places. In an ideal community there would be no orators. Words cannot lay a foundation or rear an edifice.
There has never been anywhere at any time any method of selecting judges that was entirely satisfactory to everybody concerned or to everybody not concerned, and there never will be.
Courts touch the public at so many angles and deal with so many of the most intimate affairs of men. Rights of persons, rights of things, business, goods, treasure, revenue, morals, conduct, public policy, jactitation of marriage, the time to dig ginseng, skinning dead billygoats that are owned by others, regrating, forestalling and engrossing, all kinds of money, including testimony, ceremony, matrimony, patrimony, and, alimony are all matters of the law. Mr. Dinglefoogle says:
“A youth inherits patrimony,
He is planking down for alimony." Mr. President-I move that you rule out all of Mr. Dinglefoogle's remarks up to this point. Like the flowers that bloom in the spring, they have nothing to do with this case.
Lexicographers say that a judge is a judicial officer invested with authority to administer justice. We are informed that a judge should be wise, just, brave, true, capable, knowing, patient and absolutely impartial.
The very best men the State affords are none too good
for the bench. Courts have great power over the affairs of men. A judge of the Superior Courts can be either a blessing or a curse to the citizens of his circuit. · John Bright was wrong when he said that culture is a smattering of Greek and Latin, though not so wrong as Germany with her false and infamous Kultur.
Culture is not a smattering of Greek and Latin or of Spanish and French, or of any thing else, not even law. Under all circumstances a judge should be a gentleman and if he is a cultured gentleman he is all the better qualified to fill his place. For what is culture but an enlargement, an enrichment and an unfolding of ourselves— a growth, a development of the very best within us? It includes a spirit that is kind, broadness of view, and that excellent characteristic known as good taste-good taste which discerns and loves the true, beautiful and good, that detects and rejects the base, the coarse and the gross —that characteristic which neither gems, nor stores of gold, nor royal place, nor scholarship can bestow, but God alone when first his sacred hand imprints the secret bias of the soul. I like to think of a judge as a man so noble in his aspirations, so exalted in his character and so gentlemanly in his demeanor that one who has done a mean, a little or a wrong thing is ashamed to stand in his presence. The divine spark that dwells within us causes us to recognize the sublimity of a great soul and compels our obeisance to it.
Cicero says a judge should never forget that he is only a man with those limitations to which all men are subject. Yet, judges mean so much to the State that who they are and what they are is far more important than who are Governor, United States Senators and Representatives in the National Congress all combined.
Georgia has tried three different methods of selecting judges, and we have had some admirable judges under each system; but, we are planning for the future.
There have been appointments by the Governors, elec
tions by the General Assembly and elections by the people. There have been objections urged against each of these methods and neither method has been perfect. We do not dwell in Utopia, and as for that matter Utopia is derived from two Greek words meaning "no where."
If we change the present method what will we do? Where will we go? What method will give us the best men on the bench? That is the important question.
“Elections by the people are democratic and therefore in consonance with the basic principles of our form of government.” But, there are objections to this method of selecting judges that are too patent and too well founded to be disregarded. A judge should be under political obligations to no one. He is the servant of nobody but the law. He declares not his will nor his interests, but the law. He is the speaking law and impersonates its majesty and its dignity. He should never have to canvass to secure his place. It is neither false pride nor arrogance that inclines one, imbued with judicial temperament, to disdain to solicit votes, but respect for law and its ministers. If ours is a government of law and not of men, politics should never be permitted to usurp the bench. This is not a question of trusting the people but of trusting judges who are politicians. What has a judge to do with majorities? He must uphold one individual when right against the multitude when wrong. Therefore, how should judges be chosen ?
It is sometimes best for the people to delegate some of their authority. The good citizen considers first the public good.
Lawyers are of the people and from the people. They represent every interest. No one but a lawyer can become a judge. Lawyers know lawyers and they know what is needed on the bench. They know that the best lawyers do not always make the best judges. They know that the best politicians do not always make the best judges. They know that the services of many splendid men have been lost to the bench of the State for the simple reason that those men were unwilling to enter a political contest for a judgeship.
In a full assemblage of the lawyers of Georgia the pettifoggers and men of guile, if there are any, would compose a small minority. As a class, lawyers are no better and no wiser than are men in other walks of life. But if lawyers are what they should be—if they are what the law of Georgia demands that they shall be—if they merit and hold the esteem and confidence of the citizens of their several communities—lawyers can supply · the remedy that you seek and the people can afford to trust them in the matter.
What then is the remedy?
Let the lawyers of the State in convention assembled select the judges of the Superior Courts and the Appellate Courts. Let there be no candidates. Let the fact that one becomes a candidate for a judgeship act automatically as a disqualification for the office.
Judges should be called by the bar. That is the plan of Mr. Dinglefoogle.
SELECTION OF JUDGES AND THEIR TENURE OF
After the very extensive and creditable analysis of both the law and the practice of the State of Georgia heard yesterday afternoon in the admirable paper by Mr. Swift, it is practically a useless work to take the stand to offer the conclusion that we reach. We have just heard a suggestion from the last speaker, which, while not novel, is at least a very high tribute to the capacity and the propriety of the selection of judges by those best qualified to know most of the requirements of the office and the demands on those who shall fill it. It has been observed by both gentlemen that all these systems have been tried except perhaps the last; that after a period of experience dissatisfaction has arisen, and changes have been urged in accordance with the supposed will of the public. I, myself, have lived through the last three fundamental changes in the method of selecting judges. I derive no conclusion from my own experience, except that there is no ultimate rule of wisdom by which the question may be solved. It is essentially a political question, and political questions are questions of policy within the range and limit of certain recognized habits. In other words, it is a question and problem of human nature, no more, no less; and when you undertake to determine a question of human nature, you are confronted with the everlasting question of the imperfections in human nature itself which necessarily inhere in the process by which it seeks to work its will. Therefore, it is practically an open question whether the absolutely wise method will ever be discovered, since it is based on the actual imperfections of man.