judicial and judicious

"Judge Alito has been a judicious judge and my confidence he will be a judicial justice is based on my personal knowledge of the man and my belief his judicial temperament is rooted in his personal character," said Yale law professor Anthony Kronman, who said he was a Democrat.

--"Alito Hearing Over, Vote Set for Next Week," by Liza Porteus, Fox News, Friday, January 13, 2006

I can't tell whether that's a typo, a joke, a misquote, or something else. I'm guessing that Kronman meant to say Alito would be a judicious justice; "judicial justice" is something of a tautology. On the other hand, I can imagine that Kronman said the line as quoted, intending some less-common meaning of "judicial." Such as: "arising from a judgment of God." (MW11, def. 4). Or, more seriously, I can imagine he might have meant something like "suited to the job of judging"--though perhaps "magisterial" would be a better fit in that case.

3 Responses to “judicial and judicious”

  1. Vardibidian

    Magisterial usually describes demeanor (and isn’t used often enough), so I don’t think that would be a substitute. Judging (ahem) from the context, I would say that Prof. Kronman (who says he’s a Democrat) meant to say judicious twice in parallel, and then to echo that with a judicial later.

    Of course, that still only sorta makes sense. I mean, surely if you are saying that he was judicious and that he will be judicious, you would have some sort of evidence other than his character, yes? In fact, the whole quote makes no sense.


  2. Jed

    Yeah, sorry, my “magisterial” comment was confusing/incomplete; what I meant to say was that perhaps by “judicial” he meant “having the proper air of dignity and authority to be a Supreme Court justice.”

    But I agree that Kronman probably meant to say “judicious” twice. And perhaps did say that; it’s entirely possible that the article misquoted him.

    I actually think the quote makes sense. He’s saying: I know the guy [and think he’s sound of character]; furthermore, I believe that the way he behaves as judge is rooted in his personal character; therefore, I think he is as good a judge (and will be as good a justice) as he is a person, which is pretty good.

    You can argue with his premises, but I think his logic makes sense if you buy the premises.

  3. Vardibidian

    Except that what he is saying, it seems to me is (a) Judge Alito was judicious as a judge, which presumably is not about character, and (2) his confidence in Judge Alito’s judiciousness as a Justice is based on character.
    Unless Prof. Kronman means that his belief (that Judge Alito was judicious) is also based on personal knowledge and not on, say, the way the man ruled. I’m inclined to say that such a belief would have to be based on something other than the actual rulings, but I honestly stopped looking into the rulings in disgust.



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