Archive for the 'Court Bashing' Category
Are fair and impartial Oklahoma courts coming under attack? Some critics described a newly announced interim study on term limits for appellate judges as retaliation for rulings that legislators didn’t like.
House Speaker T.W. Shannon (photo), a Republican, said in announcing the study, according to the Tulsa World, “The forefathers created a system of checks and balances. We must make sure that system is not completely controlled by a powerful handful of activists.”
Only days earlier, the Oklahoma Supreme Court invalidated a lawsuit reform law. The court ruled 7-2 the statute was unconstitutional because it violated what is called the state Constitution’s single-subject rule, the Insurance Journal reported.
“We have a great judiciary in the state of Oklahoma,” said Senate Minority Leader Sean Burrage, a Democrat, according to an Oklahoman article. “They’re not a state agency; they are a third branch of the government.” He added, “It seems to me this may be retaliation by the Legislature toward the judiciary.” Read more
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who has repeatedly attacked the state’s Supreme Court as liberal activists, berated Justice Barry Albin this week. On Friday, before a State Bar Association conference, Justice Albin had urged the public to help protect impartial jurists from retribution by politicians, while stopping short of naming Christie (see Gavel Grab).
According to a (Newark) Star-Ledger article, Christie said the following:
“He can say, as far as I’m concerned, whatever he wants to say. He can be as wrong as loudly as he wants to be. But it’s interesting that they pick and choose when it’s appropriate for them to be speaking out on things and they get to be judge and jury on that.
“It’s very interesting. But, you know, Justice Albin …went down to the bar association and played to the cheap seats like the grandstander that he is. So, he can do what he wants to do.” Read more
After the staff of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg released a negative review of a federal judge’s record, the judge criticized a “below-the-belt” attack on judicial independence.
U.S. District Judge Shira A. Scheindlin is hearing a civil rights case challenging the New York Police Department’s stop-and-frisk practices, which are alleged by plaintiffs to discriminate against Hispanics and blacks.
Bloomberg’s office compiled an internal report painting the judge as “as biased against law enforcement,” the New York Daily News reported recently. In 15 written “search-and-seizure” rulings since Judge Scheindlin took the judgeship in 1994, she made a decision against law enforcement 60 percent of the time, the review indicated.
In an Associated Press interview, the judge took issue with the conclusion.
Her remark was highlighted in an article by ProPublica about some states considering making it a crime to enforce federal gun laws, and invoking a doctrine from before the Civil War called nullification. Some state bills contend the Supreme Court does not have final authority to determine a law’s constitutionality, and that states have that authority.
Beavers is a Republican. Here is an excerpt from her full remarks in February, as reported in The Tennesseean:
“I know many of you are lawyers. You’ve been to law school. You think that the Supreme Court is the ultimate arbiter of any of these laws. I don’t believe that. I don’t believe it was ever granted the authority under the Constitution. In Marbury v. Madison, they simply gave themselves that power. They declared themselves to be the ultimate arbiter of what is and what is not constitutional, and essentially setting themselves up as a dictatorship within the federal government, and I think generation after generation we have just accepted that. Read more
Only days after Justice at Stake and others condemned it, a retaliatory amendment to slash the salaries of four Iowa Supreme Court justices was withdrawn by its sponsors in the legislature.
The justices whom the amendment targeted had participated in a 2009 unanimous court ruling. The decision found it unconstitutional to deny civil marriage to same-sex couples. Under the proposed amendment, their salaries would have been cut from about $163,000 to $25,000.
Justice at Stake criticized the pay-cut proposal as “bullying by state legislators determined to intimidate the state’s justice system into bowing to political pressure” (see Gavel Grab). The Daily Nonpareil, a Council Bluffs area newspaper, published an editorial calling the proposal “truly ridiculous” and quoting Brandenburg.
According to a Des Moines Register article, the amendment’s sponsors described and defended the measure during floor debate on a related judiciary budget measure on Thursday, then withdrew it before a vote was taken.
A Republican who chairs the House Judiciary Committee said it would not have gotten many votes.
“It is extraordinarily poor public policy to attempt to tie different compensation levels to different individuals in the judicial branch based upon a decision that they’ve made,” said Rep. Chip Baltimore. “That position is certainly not representative of all Republicans here in the House or even most Republicans here in the House.”
A recent amendment introduced in the Iowa legislature to slash the salaries of four state Supreme Court justices over a controversial ruling “takes the cake” for retaliatory action, but it also raises serious questions, Des Moines Register columnist Rekha Basu writes.
It is time for Iowa legislators to get over an “obsession” and move on to “bread-and-butter issues,” Basu adds. Regarding the measure’s sponsors, she asks:
“Would they have this be the new precedent, then — that whenever the court issues a particularly unpopular or controversial ruling with which legislators disagree, the legislative branch can retaliate? Will pay cuts be determined by how unpopular the ruling is? And where would that leave contentious issues like civil rights, women’s rights and racial equality?”
A legislative proposal to slash by 85 percent the salaries of four Iowa Supreme Court justices (see Gavel Grab) is punitive and reflects an effort to intimidate judges, Justice at Stake said on Thursday.
“This proposal to impose drastic, punitive pay cuts on four Iowa justices can be viewed only one way: as bullying by state legislators determined to intimidate the state’s justice system into bowing to political pressure,” warned Bert Brandenburg, JAS executive director, in a statement.
“It’s outrageous that sitting judges who do their duty and decide cases based on the law and the state constitution should have to fear political reprisal. This isn’t the way the American justice system works.”
The Iowa Supreme Court justices who participated in a unanimous 2009 decision on marriage for same-sex couples have faced ouster campaigns in elections and impeachment attempts over the controversial ruling.
In 2010, three of them were swept off the court in a historic retention election; last year, in a different political climate, voters gave a fourth justice a new term. Now there’s another effort to retaliate against him and the other justices who participated in the ruling: An amendment proposed to a judicial branch bill would slash their salaries $25,000.
“How ridiculous can you get?” asked Senate Judiciary Chairman Rob Hogg, a Democrat, according to a Quad City Times article. He said the amendment’s sponsors don’t understand the court’s role correctly, and it is the court’s job to interpret Iowa law, while the legislature is entitled to clarify it.
Attempts by Washington state Sen. Michael Baumgartner and other lawmakers to cut the state Supreme Court from nine justices to five – through drawing straws - are “misguided and wrong,” declares a Walla Walla Union-Bulletin editorial.
After the Supreme Court justices announced that the legislature needed to be paying more for funding of public education, Baumgartner proposed a bill to cut down the size of the court.
The senator says that savings would go to K-12 education, according to the editorial. However, Baumgartner’s attempt to remove four justices is “petty nonsense,” it says. Read more
Several Republicans introduced a bill in the Washington legislature to cut the state Supreme Court from nine justices to five — by drawing straws — only a week after conservatives lost a major court decision.
Republican Sen. Michael Baumgartner sponsored the bill, which he said could result in $1.5 million in savings, according to a Seattle Times article. The court has ordered higher funding for public education, and Baumgartner said the savings would go to fund K-12 education.
The trio of Republicans who introduced the measure were “[s]till stinging from a Supreme Court ruling last week that overturned tax-increase constraints on the Legislature,” the Associated Press reported.
As for the means of trimming the court’s size, the bill says, “On June 30, 2013, all existing judges of the state supreme court, shall meet in public to cast lots by drawing straws.” It goes on, “Effective July 1,2013, the positions of the four judges casting losing lots by drawing the shortest straws shall be terminated.”