Charlie Sykes suggests that Linda Clifford is running on her lack of qualifications in claiming that she is the most qualified candidate in the race because she is not a judge. Charlie writes "So can I be a pilot, Because I've never flown? A brain surgeon, because I'm not a doctor? An NFL coach because I've never even coached the pee-wee league? "
It may surprise those who think I'm "really" shilling for the Ziegler campaign, but I disagree. Although I think Clifford goes too far, the point she is making is that the court should have lawyers with different backgrounds and all but two of the current members of the court were judges before they became justices.
There are a number of backgrounds that might qualify a lawyer to serve on the court other than service as a trial judge. The latter post is certainly relevant to service on the court but is also very different. A justice like Louis Butler who had been a public defender and trial judge certainly had a lot of background in the criminal justice system, but virtually no background in the other areas implicated by the courts' work.
A trial judge can turn out to be a very good justice (see. e.g., Diane Sykes) as can someone who never was a judge (see, e.g., David Prosser or, even though I often disagree with her decisions, Shirley Abrahamson).
We ought to be more concerned about what these candidates will do on the court than how they got here.