Ever since John F. Kennedy filled his administration with academics and intellectuals, the phrase “the best and the brightest” has connoted a certain ideological meaning. Nowadays, it is a subject of regular debate whether our leaders should be the smartest and most well-educated among us. Only in America would we find a way to make this a contentious and highly partisan issue. Many lawyers — ourselves included — find it difficult to understand why we wouldn’t want those who administer, regulate and enforce laws to be the best and the brightest.

Take federal judges, for example. Shouldn’t we want our federal judiciary to consist of an intellectual powerhouse? Those judicial authorities that are best equipped to interpret and defend our beloved Constitution are no lightweights. And as such, shouldn’t we want thoughtful individuals to use their careers before being nominated to vital appointments to reach those thoughts and articulately express them — all in the public interest? The answers to these questions should be easy and axiomatic — how could it be otherwise? Excellence should always hold the day, should it not?

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