LAWYERS on average are much more liberal than the general population, a new study has found. But judges are more conservative than the average lawyer, to say nothing of the graduates of top law schools.

What accounts for the gap? The answer, the study says, is that judicial selection processes are affected by politics.

Judges are, of course, almost without exception lawyers. If judges reflected the pool from which they were selected based on politically neutral grounds like technical skill and temperament, the bench might be expected to tilt left.

But something else is going on.