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Kurt Schmoke
Political/Education leader

Kurt Schmoke

A former mayor of Baltimore City, Kurt Schmoke is Dean of Howard University School of Law.

Biography Is Not Destiny

The discussion of personal history is generally less important for the appointment of federal judges than it is for the election of federal office holders. When all is said and done, those who vote on federal judicial appointments focus more attention on the judges previous opinions and articles than they do on the nominee's biography. An exception to this general rule occurs when the nominee has no prior record of service on the bench. Then legislators must examine other issues relating to the person's background in order to gain insights into the person's temperament, philosophy and skills.

Many leaders find that biography can be useful as a teaching tool. Biography can sometimes be a motivator. Learning about a leader's personal history can help in understanding that person outlook on contemporary problems. A big problem comes, however, when one tries to make predictions about a person's decision-making solely based on their personal history. We should have learned by now that biography is not destiny. That rule definitely applies to federal judges.

By Kurt Schmoke

 |  June 8, 2009; 2:50 PM ET
Category:  Leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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