The Words According to Brennan

Wall Street Journal, October 23, 1985.


Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan Jr. is an angry man who has begun to give vent to his anger off the bench and in public. Although his recent Georgetown University address appears to have been well received by those whom it was calculated and designed to please — the address is filled to the brim with righteous liberal indignation — this sort of public posturing is almost unseemly and is certainly injudicious.

Federal judges are supposed to be nonpartisan, and they are not supposed to accuse officials in the other branches of government of arrogance, facile historicism (whatever that means), or plotting wicked schemes to deprive minorities of their rights. Justice Brennan’s law clerks should have reminded him of the sage observation — uttered almost 400 years ago by Francis Bacon-that a much-talking judge is like an ill-tuned cymbal.

American Enterprise Institute