Generalists at One First Street

November 4th, 2014

One of the ongoing debate about Supreme Court Justices, is that they lack subject matter expertise, and are called upon to decide very complicated areas. In remarks at Yale Law School, Justice Alito admits one of his failings–patent law.

There are very few people today who have a generalist background that [Sotomayor] acquired. A lot of people spent a lot of their career specializing in one area. And we have to write opinions that are going to be binding on the country in area where we have no background. I did not one bit of patent work before I came to the Court. My first involvement in patent law was voting on a patent cases. It is unavoidable.

It is valuable for use to have that kind of diversity as far as fields of specialization and knowledge.

Although, the Federal Circuit, which is supposed to consist of patent experts, has been consistently reversed every time the Court gets a chance. So there’s that.