Benefits of a Liberal Arts Education in Appellate Court Judges
Appellate Court judges are the final stop for most of the federal cases in the United States. They hear cases which come from large areas or regions, often encompassing a large number of cultural variances. Rather than hold trials, appellate court judges review decisions of trial courts for errors of law. Court of appeals decisions, unlike those of the lower federal courts, establish binding precedents. Other federal courts in that circuit must, from that point forward, follow the appeals court's guidance in similar cases, regardless of whether the trial judge thinks that the case should be decided differently. Therefore, the appellate court holds a clout of immense proportion over a large number of people and their laws.
A liberal arts education could be very beneficial to someone in a position of this magnitude. Because liberal arts institutions are prided on making connections, expanding horizons, and limiting ethnocentricity, they are able to teach their students how to think on their own using a system of interwoven courses. These interdisciplinary courses present a point of view which helps students learn important skills like problem solving and communication. Students of the liberal arts are also able to see how everything in society relates to and with everything else. For example, a liberal arts student may be able to see the connection between race and sentencing differences due to courses in sociology or their often required ‘diversity intensive’ courses. In the case of an appellate court judge, he or she may see that a trial judge’s biases interfered with his/her ruling and sentencing guidelines and may be able to ‘fix’ the improper judgment in the appeals process.
Another valuable aspect of the liberal arts education is gaining a broad range of education with better-rounded knowledge base, rather than a strict focus on one career path. This ideally exposes one to...
References: Bybee, K.J. (2004). The liberal arts, legal scholarship, and the democratic critique of
judicial power. Law in the liberal arts. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
Keefe, R. (2001). What is the value of studying the liberal arts? University of Wisconsin Center
for Academic Advisory. Retrieved from http://www.uwsuper.edu/advise/studentinfo/liberalarts.cfm
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