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Report No. 95

3.20. The task of the judge, and the requisite mental equipment.-

It is also admitted that constitutional adjudication imposes a difficult task upon the judge. He must examine the present issue, assimilate the past experience and transcend both the past and the present, in order to project himself into the future. It is obvious that the magnitude and variety of tasks described above demands proper mental equipment. Learned Hand's description of the mental equipment demanded of a Judge cannot be bettered:-

"I venture to believe that it is as important to a Judge called upon to pass on a question of constitutional law to have at least a bowing acquaintance with Acton and Maitland, with Thucydides, Gibbon and Carlyle, with Homer, Dante,. Shakespeare and Milton, with Machiavelli Montaigne, and Rabalais, with Plato, Bacon, Hume and Kant, as with the books which have been specifically written on the subject. For, in such matters, everything turns upon the spirit in which he approaches the questions before him. The words he must construe are empty vessels into which he can pour nearly anything he will.

Men do not gather figs of thistles, nor supply institutions from judges whose outlook is limited by parish or class. They (the judges) must be aware that there are before them more than verbal problems; more than final solutions cast in generalizations of universal applicability. They must be aware of the changing special tensions in every society which make it an "organism", which demand new schemata of adaptation; which will disrupt it if rigidly confined".1

1. Learned Hand The Spirit of Liberty, p. 63.



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