Saturday, November 1, 2008

Those Activist Judges Have Been Active

The right-wing seem to consider the phrase “activist judge” to be a derogatory phrase. Do they feel the same way when Bush appointees are the ones being active?

From Appeals Courts Pushed to Right by Bush Choices by Charlie Savage:

Republican-appointed judges, most of them conservatives, are projected to make up about 62 percent of the bench next Inauguration Day, up from 50 percent when Mr. Bush took office. They control 10 of the 13 circuits, while judges appointed by Democrats have a dwindling majority on just one circuit.
Appeals courts tend to change the law incrementally rather than in rapid shifts. They are constrained to follow Supreme Court precedent, and most of their work consists of unanimously disposing of routine cases.

Still, every year courts encounter some controversial cases in which they have greater discretion. In such circumstances, several studies have shown that judges appointed by Republican presidents since Reagan have ruled for conservative outcomes more often than have their peers.

They have been more likely than their colleagues to favor corporations over regulators and people alleging discrimination, and to favor government over people who claim rights violations. They have also been more likely to throw out cases on technical grounds, like rejecting plaintiffs’ standing to sue.
It appears that our judicial system has become nearly as fair and balanced as Fox News.

It also seems that conservative judges have some contempt for the law. How weird is that?
The consequences of the evolving judiciary are only beginning to play out.

In the case of the 2005 South Dakota abortion law, the dissenters — including two Democratic appointees, a Reagan appointee, and a Bush appointee — portrayed the court’s decision as a sharp change in direction.

The majority, they contended, had not only bypassed “important principles of constitutional law laid down by the Supreme Court” but also violated the appeals court’s established standards for issuing preliminary injunctions.
Even though Halloween is dead and gone, at least for this year, the land of the judiciary remains a scary place. Especially if you believe in the Constitution, which apparently many conservative judges do not. How weird is that?

From Invasion Of The Constitution Snatchers: Bush Judges Scare The Halloween Out Of Me by Joseph L. Conn:
* Judge William Pryor, U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. A former Alabama attorney general, Pryor went to court to defend notorious Chief Justice Roy Moore’s 2.5-ton Commandments monument in the state judicial building, telling a rally that God had chosen Christians “to save our country and save our courts.”

* Judge Janice Rogers Brown, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Brown says the United States is in a religious battle of Civil War proportions, has questioned whether the Bill of Rights applies to the states and has criticized the Supreme Court for relying on that “rather uninformative metaphor of the ‘wall of separation of church and state.’”

* Judge Michael W. McConnell, U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. Described in The New York Times after his nomination as “an important architect of a shift in American law away from strict separation of church and state,” McConnell has expressed support for tax aid to religion, bitterly opposed reproductive rights and called for more religious influence in public schools and public life.
I want my country back. I want our Constitution back. I want our collective sanity back.

Perhaps we never were truly collectively sane, but we seem to have gone further and further off the deep end with each passing day of the last eight years.

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