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America's partisan politics has risen to unprecedented levels. And while this is a reflection of the American electorate, it nevertheless threatens to undermine the very checks and balances essential to a functioning democracy by tainting the nominating process for Supreme Court judges.

Currently, the court is divided — or, more accurately, gridlocked — with four liberals and four conservatives. People who believe that the Supreme Court should live up to its name by employing the most scholarly and competent judges in all the land are probably wondering how we got ourselves into this fix and why it's so difficult to fill our current vacancy on the court. They know that there are judges out there, probably thousands of them, who could do a crackerjack job on the bench.

Judges beyond reproach, judges who simply apply the law, without axes to grind or novels under their belts. Judges who don't get confirmed only to become the puppets of particular groups and causes. More importantly, they're also wondering why most nominees always seem to come from the same federal circuit court system.

And they're also probably asking why presidents can't look elsewhere for their nominees and perhaps even consider judges cut from the same mold as Utah's recently deceased Don Vaughn Tibbs for nominations. Judges with the highest qualities and credentials only minus the partisan baggage.

Maybe Donald Trump, in true Trumpian fashion, will set a shocking precedent by nominating someone from the hinterlands and, perhaps, if we're lucky, future presidents might follow suit and we might even end up with a nonpartisan Supreme Court one day.

Thomas R. Smith

Salt Lake City