Saturday :: May 28, 2005

Judges Not, Lest They Be Judges


by pessimist

Mother Jones has a great lead to a Wall Street Journal post examining the reasons why Bu$hCo judge appointments are so important and fraught with serious consequence:

Since Republicans have held the White House for 17 of the past 25 years, their appointees dominate all but a handful of the circuit courts.
Some of Mr. Bush's nominees are more conservative than the 1970s Ford-administration appointees they would succeed, and could also make a difference in courts currently controlled by Republicans. "The federal bench now is so precariously perched in terms of the policy direction it's set to go in, the stakes are seen as being really very, very high," says Sheldon Goldman, a political scientist at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, who has written a book on judicial nominations.

Janice Rogers Brown, for instance, has made scathing assessments about the reach of the federal government -- and she is nominated to the appellate court that handles the majority of appeals of government-agency rulings.

"[We] no longer find slavery abhorrent," Ms. Brown said in one speech. "We embrace it. We demand more. Big government is not just the opiate of the masses. It is ... the drug of choice for multinational corporations and single moms, for regulated industries and rugged Midwestern farmers and militant senior citizens."

Would you allow such an attitude to hear your case? You might have to!

William Myers, who has advocated against environmental groups, is in line to join the appellate court that sorts through land-use battles. Mr. Myers has spent much of his career as a lawyer and lobbyist for cattlemen and mining interests. He once compared government land-use regulations with "the tyrannical actions of King George" over the colonies and said in a speech to the Cattlemen's Association that "the biggest disaster now facing ranchers is not nature, but a flood of regulations designed to turn the West into little more than a theme park."

Never mind that the cattlemen have not been the best caretakers of OUR land!

William Pryor, who called a section of the Voting Rights Act "an expensive burden that has far outlived its usefulness" -- may be headed for an appellate court with jurisdiction over parts of the old Confederacy. Abortion and civil-rights groups oppose the confirmation of the former Alabama attorney general, who once called the Roe v. Wade abortion-rights ruling "the worst abomination" in constitutional history. While lauding the importance of the Voting Rights Act, he drew criticism when calling for a repeal of a section of it.

This is serious - well, they all are, but this one has the largest implication for the widest effect. The National Review looks at this proposal to repeal a section of the Voting Rights Act:

... he has called for the amendment of Section 5 of the Act to ensure appropriate balance and state flexibility to ensure equal rights. He has criticized the “abuse of federal power” under Section 5, and has also taken to task federal courts that have “turned the Act on its head and wielded . . . power to deprive all voters of the right to select . . . public officers,” even though the Act “was passed to empower minority voters in the exercise of the franchise.” Indeed, as it is currently interpreted by courts, Section 5 has forced states to create or maintain safe minority seats which actually dilute minority voting strength elsewhere by packing minority voters into certain districts.

They then try to attach Pryor to 'known Civil Rights proponents' of the Court:

Because of these problems, it should come as no surprise that some of the most revered Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court have criticized Section 5. The second Justice John Marshall Harlan wrote, “I find it especially difficult to believe that Congress would single out a handful of States as requiring stricter federal supervision concerning their treatment of a problem that may well be just as serious in parts of the North as it is in the South.” Justice Lewis Powell stated that it is “a serious intrusion, incompatible with the basic structure of our system, for federal authorities to compel a State to submit its [reapportionment] legislation for advance review” under Section 5, and observed that he disagrees “with the unprecedented requirement of advance review of state or local legislative acts by federal authorities, rendered the more noxious by its selective application to only a few States.”

On the occasion of Justice Powell’s death, President Clinton saluted him as being “one of our most thoughtful and conscientious justices” and observed that he reviewed cases “without an ideological agenda.”

General Pryor should also be saluted for thoughtfully contributing to the public debate on how to best overcome America’s tragic legacy of racism and discrimination, just as these icons of American jurisprudence have.

People affected by the bias that the Voting rights Act is intended to remedy have this to say about Pryor's 'concerns':

The continuing importance of the Voting Rights Act, including Section 5, prompted more than a dozen leading veterans of the civil rights movement, who had recently gathered for a commemoration of the movement, to denounce Pryor’s 1997 testimony and oppose his confirmation to the Eleventh Circuit. See Statement of Civil Rights Movement Veterans (May 2003). These civil rights leaders, including Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, Rev. Jim Lawson, Rev. James Bevel, and Martin Luther King III, stated:

We view the Voting Rights Act as the most important single piece of legislation laid down in our time, for it has transformed our society and signaled the liberation of African Americans. . . Far from outliving its usefulness, the Voting Rights Act has not yet fulfilled its promise.

If we are to achieve a truly just and democratic society, the full panoply of protections guaranteed by the Voting Rights Act must remain inviolate. Pryor’s expressed disdain for and extreme position concerning the Voting Rights Act cause us to conclude he is unsuited for the federal bench.

If he cannot comprehend the continuing need for voting rights protections for African Americans in the Deep South, then he is unlikely to fairly evaluate and firmly enforce the provisions of the Voting Rights Act in cases that come before him.

Pryor would allow rights guaranteed by the federal Constitution — particularly the fundamental right to the equal protection of the laws — to be taken away in an individual state by majority vote, an ideology completely at odds with our Constitution.

Equal protection of the law - the 'excuse' that provided Tony the Fixer Scalia to throw the White House to the Grate [sic] Pretender! I guess that it's OK to trash it now that it isn't needed by Bu$hCo anymore!

In addition, Pryor's pro-corporate to a fault:

"Not only is Pryor an extreme ideologue, but he is also severely ethically compromised," Alliance for Justice President Nan Aron said, in reference to his questionable fundraising activities on behalf of the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA) and his apparent misrepresentation of these to the Committee. "He has also been a staunch advocate for big tobacco, states' rights, and the gun lobby. It is clear that Pryor has put partisan and corporate interests above the interests of the people of Alabama. Now, once again, the president has put his own partisan interests above the interests of the American people."

So allow me to sum up: If all of these 'judges' were seated, could they not collectively rule that it is OK for corporate interests to enslave their workers and take away their rights in order to produce profits for the corporate interests?

It isn't such a stretch!

Yes, I know that they are only Circuit Court appointees to various districts, but this is the sort of anti-citizen that Bu$hCo wants on the courts to protect them from retribution, especially once even the Red Staters can no longer deny that they are being abused by Bu$hCo. By packing the courts with such Topper-oriented jurists, they can issue rulings that impede the application of the law despite any possible change in the balance of power elsewhere in the government.

In addition, this sort of judge could act as a defensive 'last-ditch' effort to hang on to as much of the wrong-wing agenda as possible pending the engineering of a return to power considering that these are lifetime appointments.

But it is hard to make these points - in time to counter any Bu$hCo gains - to a nation with far too many people whose attention span is shorter than their private appendages. Some of these have already forgotten who won American Idol after all!

It's times like these that I truly understand the emotions caused by being 'The voice of one calling out in the wilderness.'


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