The New Activist Judges

Discussion in 'Politics' started by ZZZzzzzzzz, Sep 5, 2006.

  1. by Molly Ivins


    AUSTIN, Texas -- Another bee-you-ti-ful example of the right-wing media getting it all wrong. Here they are having the nerve to mutter in public about "activist judges" because Judge Anna Diggs Taylor has pointed out that spying without a warrant is illegal in this country -- so warrantless telephone tapping is illegal in this country.

    Improbably enough, the first complaint of many of these soi-disant legal scholars is that Taylor's decision is not well written. No judicial masterpiece, they sneer. Nevertheless, warrantless spying is illegal. Did it ever occur to these literary critics that Taylor has a lay-down hand? The National Security Agency program is flat unconstitutional, and for those who insist this means Osama bin Laden wins, it's also ridiculously easy to fix so that it is constitutional.

    Conservatives in this country have been yipping in chorus for years about "activist judges," and frankly, like fools, many of you bought into the phony political rhetoric about those terrible jurists.

    Somehow, activist judges are held responsible for gay marriage, Roe v. Wade and everything else Americans disagree about, as though Americans would never disagree without their encouragement. Conservatives have been mad at the Supreme Court since it decided to desegregate the schools in 1954 and seen fit to blame the federal bench for everything that has happened since then that they don't like.

    As any liberal could have told you, the conservatives didn't want a right-wing shift on the nation's courts because of "social issues" -- that's just a handy political ploy. Honestly, people, haven't you figured out what this is all about yet? Money. The conservatives are in a snit about "liberal courts" because of money.

    Corporations being prosecuted for breaking the law! Tobacco companies forced to pay huge fines! Oil and chemical companies made to pay for cleanup at Superfund sites! Oh, the horror, the horror. The Wall Street Journal's editorial page couldn't stop shivering over it for years.

    "This is the richest business term in recent memory," Mark Levy, a Supreme Court litigator, told The Wall Street Journal, which has stopped quivering at last. Moving right along in the long-drawn-out battle to deny ordinary citizens access to their own courts, the justices closed down the right to allow class-action securities cases in state courts. The court also kept out of a lower-court decision preventing taxpayers from suing to stop tax breaks that states and municipalities use to lure big business, a notorious example of raging bad policy.

    Meanwhile, what a nice gift from the federal bench to the insurance companies when a federal judge in Mississippi decided that hurricane insurance policies excluding water damage are "valid and enforceable." As many of our fellow citizens had an opportunity to learn during Katrina, it's a challenge to sit around in a class IV hurricane, trying to figure out which is wind and which is water damage. "Ooops, there goes the roof, probably wind, followed by a huge run of waves rolling over the house, could be water."

    Insurance company stocks went up across the board after the decision, while the industry kindly advised its clients to "keep you eyes wide open when buying new homeowners' insurance."

    Congratulations to the Katrina survivors who were hanging on by their fingernails.

    Money, money, money is the motif of the "New Activist" federal judges, but they have also been busy, busy limiting congressional authority and individual rights. As People for the American Way notes, federal appellate courts -- effectively the court of last resort for most Americans -- are working on: questioning the constitutionality of the Endangered Species Act, overturning the National Labor Relations Board rulings against anti-union discrimination and other unfair labor practices by employers, allowing the Bush administration to keep secret the records of the Cheney energy task force and rewriting by court order a state law on First Amendment activity.

    Other Bush appellate judges have ruled to deny protection to workers who file claims of race and disability discrimination, made it harder to protect the environment, and issued other decisions that will affect our lives and liberties for decades.

    Activist judges, indeed.
  2. Arnie


    Thanks for the laugh. Molly in a snit...oh my. Lets see, Ins policies SPECIFICALLY excluding water damage shouldn't be enforced? A really unbiased opinion from a "Supreme Court litigator". Wonder who's side he is on. Tobacco co's selling a legal product...the nerve!!

    I guess brain damage from years of heavy drinking does take its toll. Have one on me, Molly. You too z.:D
  3. As expected from the left side of the bell curve of intelligence, ad hominem response.

  4. look.. it doesnt matter. they listen to who and what they want anyways. helloooooooooo, comverse anyone????? wake up ppl.. this is all just a show.
  5. Old Molly seems to be losing it in her later years. She used to at least be funny. Now, like all other liberal moonbats, she is just seething with bitterness and doesn't even try to hide the hate behind a facade of sarcasm.

    For the record, the problem conservatives have with activist judges is that those judges enforce their personal policy preferences by inventing constitutional "rights" that supposedly require acceptance of liberal social policy, for example gay marriage. The fact that 250 years of jurisprudence failed to "discover" such rights is considered irrelevant and a sign of small thinking. The problem with such made-up constitutional law is that it both diminishes democracy by taking issues away from the voters and it diminishes respect for the courts.

    As for Molly's absurd claim conservatives' criticism is all about the money, one of the most criticized cases in recent memory was Kelo, in which the Court sided with developers and corrupt local governments and took away constitutionally protected property rights.
  6. The trouble with the conservative's view of judicial activism is that only the conservative is permitted to identify it.

    A judge is activist if he rules against a Biblical display in a courthouse, because this gores the conservative's ox. Yet, the Constitution only states that there shall be no establishment of religion, which is more logically interpreted to exclude religious displays on government property.

    Suddenly, the conservative stops reading at the four corners of the Constitution and determines that religious displays are acceptable because the founders would have supported them.

    Attempting to ascertain the "correct" interpretation of the Constitution is, at best, a "judgment" call.

    That's why there are judges, and why at the appellate level, multiple judges vote on the correct interpretation of law.

    The conservative calls this "legislating from the bench." The lawyer just calls it the "judiciary."

    Judge Taylor's decision may be overturned on appeal. However, it is not "activist." It is simply a "judgment."

    The President has engaged in wiretapping which is in violation of the FISA. His position is that the AUMF permits his violation. Judge Taylor disagreed, because the FISA is specific, and the AUMF is general. That's a pretty straightforward, non-activist decision to a reasonable person.

    But, if you don't like the decision, then it's activist. So, when the dust settles, it's really all about what your personal politics are. If you get the decision you like, it's the product of a brilliant jurist. Otherwise not.
  7. bsmeter


    Let's guess what this AAA sheep would say if some neocon fifth columnist judge were to declare a embryo a human being.


    ROTFLMAO!!! :D :D

    <a href=""><img src="" border="0" alt="Image Hosted by" /></a>

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  9. You couldn't be more wrong.

    What could be more relevant to interpreting the Constitution than the views of those who wrote it and adopted it and the contemporary practice at that time? Yet you equate that to the confused ramblings of judges with delusions of granduer or personal or political axes to grind.

    For constitutional law to have any value, it must rest on a body of well-considered precedent and principled jurisprudence. Otherwise, it becomes just what you imagine it to be, namely whatever two appellate court judges say it is or five Supreme Court justices agree to say. That is not constitutional law, it is fiat law masquerading as constitutional law. The end result is just what we have today, a politicized judiciary, total breakdown in respect for the judiciary and incipient constitutional crises as the other co-equal Branches fight back against judicial legislating.
  10. Right, and only the right wingers have the correct interpration of the Constitution, because God told them so.

    Blah, blah, blah...

    The Klannish ones don't understand the concept of a difference of opinion, especially legal opinions. There is only their truth, and if you don't agree with it, you are wrong.

    AAA, admit it, you are a parrot for Limbaugh, et. al.

    #10     Sep 6, 2006