In the threads here stemming from Judge Kopf’s impolite and unprofessional verbiage directed at the Supreme Court, some members of the Nebraska federal jurist’s fan club have sought to justify his incivility by asserting that the judicial system itself is “broken,” and that, more specifically, judges ought to just concern themselves with judicial errors of their lower court colleagues and eschew political controversies, such as, I must presume based on the context of the judge’s compliant, when the other branches of the government break laws and violate constitutional principles.
To say that I’m cynical about this argument understates the case.What it means, I believe, is that members of one partisan orientation believe that the system is broken as long as judges who do not share their progressive biases are in a position to rule on various controversies where judicial intervention is necessary and appropriate, but will no longer be considered “broken” once progressive-minded jurists are in a position to do the intervening, whereupon the critics like Judge Kopf will drop their objections.
The fact that the system is not “broken” and that judges are doing their jobs when called upon to protect the public from abuse of power was illustrated by two events this week:
- In Florida, Leon County Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis rejected the Legislature’s 2012 congressional map and specifically ordered two of the state’s 27 districts redrawn to comply with the state’s Fair District constitutional amendment. Despite the amendment, approved by Florida voters, which requires Congressional districts in the state to be drawn without partisan distortion designed to protect seats and turf (Florida somehow managed to have more Republicans than Democrats representing the state, despite more Democrats than Republicans voting for representation), the judge found that the GOP legislature allowed “improper partisan intent” to infiltrate the redistricting process and intentionally ignored evidence that partisan political operatives were “making a mockery” out of their attempts to conduct themselves with transparency. The Republicans, in other words, were cheating, and the cheating had the effect of violating the “one man, one vote” principle articulated by the Supreme Court as well as the Constitution of Florida. A judge, as judges must, stopped it, and thus guarded the integrity of out democracy. Naturally, the Republicans are condemning this a partisan decision, and judicial oversight of redistricting repairs are the epitome of “judicial activism” that may be necessary because neither party can be trusted to be objective.
- The I.R.S. scandal—You know, the one that the public recognizes as important and real but that the President, Democrats, MSNBC and most of the mainstream media claim is a figment of Darrell Issa’s hyper-partisan imagination? The one that suggests that the most powerful U.S. agency, required by law to be non-political and non-partisan, has been acting as an enforcement arm of the Democratic Party and the White House?—may have found its Judge Sirica. U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan ordered the tax agency to submit, in writing, an explanation for how Lois Lerner’s e-mails were so conveniently lost, and why they could not be recovered. He said the IRS declaration must be signed, under oath, by the appropriate IRS official is also appointing a federal magistrate to see whether the lost emails can be obtained from other sources. The I.R.S.’s previous explanations for what sure looks like illegal spoliation and part of a cover-up have alternated between “Ooopsie!” and “Nyaa nyaa nyaa! What are you going to do about it?,” or, as the President would say, “So sue me!” Even the fact that the Obama administration’s politicized and corrupt Department of Justice, which would appoint a special prosecutor if it had any vestigial integrity or concern for maintaining the public trust, is not enough to allow the Democrats to run out the clock on this disturbing set of facts, revelations, official lies, Democratic congressional obstruction and Executive Branch stonewalling.
The judiciary has a vital constitutional and governmental function to perform, and is the public’s only champion when elected officials willfully or carelessly abuse power. The danger to the system is not the judges and the courts, but the recent effort of partisans and ideologues to destroy trust in the third branch, by representing its motives and conduct as being as biased and corrupt as theirs. Of the three branches of government, the judiciary is the one most worthy of public trust, as well as the one in which public trust is the most indispensable.