Judiciary Archives

Citizen Khalid

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, self-proclaimed mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, is being promoted to, what amounts to, full citizen of the United States of America for purposes of standing trial, in civilian court, for his war crimes.  He’ll get all the rights and privileges afforded citizens, and even just residents living under the laws of our land, even though he has never been either of those. 

Nazis are rolling over in their graves.  No doubt John Kerry, who called the war on terror a "law enforcement" issue is feeling vindicate today.  (He’s still wrong.)

Democrats promptly erected straw men to defend this decision by the President.

Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said the federal courts are capable of trying high-profile terrorism.

”By trying them in our federal courts, we demonstrate to the world that the most powerful nation on earth also trusts its judicial system a system respected around the world,” Leahy said.

But nobody’s saying that the federal courts aren’t capable.  What they are saying is that there are other ways to deal with this without the detrimental consequences.

Republican Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona called bringing Mohammed to New York ”an unnecessary risk” that could result in the disclosure of classified information. Kyl maintained the trial of Omar Abdel Rahman, the so-called ”blind sheik” who was tried for a plot against some two-dozen New York City landmarks, caused ”valuable information about U.S. intelligence sources and methods” to be revealed to the al-Qaida terrorist network.

Making 9/11 that much more easier to plan.  And we’re putting the master planner on trial.  We’re throwing caution to the wind because of the President’s reckless promise to close Guantanamo within a year (which hasn’t been going so well, and people are losing their jobs over it).

And if you thought that the OJ Simpson trial was a circus, just wait until the KS Mohammed one.  "If he was waterboarded, he must be exonerated!"  OK, I’m no Johnny-Cochran-caliber poet, that’s for sure.

Yesterday, Senator Orrin Hatch, who has voted on 11 Supreme Court nominees, had very good opening remarks in the Sotomayor confirmation hearing.  His whole speech is worth reading (or watching, if you prefer), but I’d like to highlight a section where he notes that Senator Obama seemed to have a different standard for judicial nominees than he has today.  Senator Hatch pointed this out.

I have also found guidance from what may seem to some as an unusual source. On June 8, 2005, then-Senator Barack Obama explained his opposition to the appeals court nomination of Janice Rogers Brown, an African-American woman with a truly compelling life story who then served as a Justice on the California Supreme Court. Senator Obama made three arguments that I find relevant today.

First, he argued that the test of a qualified judicial nominee is whether she can set aside her personal views and, as he put it, “decide each case on the facts and the merits alone….That is what our Founders intended….Judicial decisions ultimately have to be based on evidence and on facts. They have to be based on precedent and on law.”

Second, Senator Obama extensively reviewed Justice Brown’s speeches off the court for clues about what he called her “overarching judicial philosophy.” There is even more reason to do so today. This is, after all, a nomination to the Supreme Court of the United States.

Judge Sotomayor, if confirmed, will help change the very precedents that today bind her as a U.S. Circuit Judge. In other words, the judicial position to which she has been nominated is quite different than the judicial position she now occupies.

This makes evidence, outside of her appeals court decisions, regarding her approach to judging more, not less, important. Judge Sotomayor has obviously thought, spoken, and written much on these issues and I think we show respect to her in taking that entire record seriously.

Third, Senator Obama said that while a nominee’s race, gender, and life story are important, they cannot distract from the fundamental focus on the kind of judge she will be. He said then, as I have said today, that we should all be grateful for the opportunity that our liberty affords for Americans of different backgrounds.

We should applaud Judge Sotomayor’s achievements and service to her community, her profession, and her country. Yet Senator Obama called it “offensive and cynical” to suggest that a nominee’s race or gender can give her a pass for her substantive views. He proved it by voting twice to filibuster Judge Janice Rogers Brown’s nomination, and then by voting against her confirmation. I share his hope that we have arrived at a point in our country’s history where individuals can be examined and even criticized for their views, no matter what their race or gender. If those standards were appropriate when Senator Obama opposed Republican nominees, they should be appropriate now that President Obama is choosing his own nominees.

But today, President Obama says that personal empathy is an essential ingredient in judicial decisions. Today, we are urged to ignore Judge Sotomayor’s speeches altogether and focus only on her judicial decisions. I do not believe that we should do that.

Indeed, Sen. Hatch continues on to note other double standards that Senator Obama applied, based, one can only imagine, solely on the way the judge is expected to rule on particular cases.  Democrats have politicized this process (just ask Robert Bork or Clarence Thomas), but Republicans, like Senator Lindsey Graham, have been much more fair (just ask Ruth Ginsberg), and indeed, as he said, "Now, unless you have a complete meltdown, you’re going to get confirmed." 

When George W. Bush was elected, Republicans defended his policy decisions, in part, with the phrase, "elections mean things".  If the country votes in a President, they vote in his policies and, if the occasion presents itself, Supreme Court nominees.  And so Graham also said, "But President Obama won the election and I will respect that."  Not as a rubber stamp, but the President does get the benefit of the doubt.  Republicans are being consistent in this, and in doing so are trying to hold back or reverse the politicization of the process that Democrats have pushed.

While watching Fox News cover the hearings, as each speaker began their remarks, you saw some information about them; personal information (age, service in politics, etc.), what they’ve said about Sotomayor, and how they voted in past Supreme Court nominees.  It was interesting to see how many Republicans voted for every nominee they ever saw, including Hatch’s 11 Yes votes, but how so many Democrats haven’t yet voted Yes.  In confirming Sotomayor, the Republicans will once again lead by example, hoping perhaps that the Democrats will see this and act likewise when the situation is reversed.  History does not seem to indicate that this will happen, but you can always hope.

Policy-Making Judges

Should a court be where "policy is made"?  I thought that’s what we had elected representatives for.  But Obama’s pick for the highest court in the land, Judge Sonia Sotomayor, seem to think so.  (Well, until she realizes she’s being recorded, and then she gives a wink and a nod to the audience.)  Another liberal judge who thinks it’s his or her job to form the law rather than interpret it.

And from this article about the pick comes this wonderful line:

“I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life,” said Judge Sotomayor, who is now considered to be near the top of President Obama’s list of potential Supreme Court nominees.

If she were a Republican, that would have been labeled "racist".  But she doesn’t stop there.

“Whether born from experience or inherent physiological or cultural differences,” she said, for jurists who are women and nonwhite, “our gender and national origins may and will make a difference in our judging.”

Her remarks came in the context of reflecting her own life experiences as a Hispanic female judge and on how the increasing diversity on the federal bench “will have an effect on the development of the law and on judging.”

Blind justice will now be peeking, if Sotomayor is confirmed.  I continue to think that these kinds of judges still don’t recall that Brown v. Board of Education was decided by nine white guys.  Unanimously. 

And I’d like to note that my objections to this court pick have absolutely nothing to do with her gender or national origin.  It is the Left that is overly hung up on this, as I noted in this post during the confirmation of John Roberts.  And Sotomayor, in bringing this up, is not only overly emphasizing this irrelevant point, but setting up opponents to be tarred as "racists". 

The whole idea that one’s race or gender, in and of itself, should alter one’s view of the law in this day and age, is saddening, frankly.  The fact that we have an African-American President is not the beginning of racial reconciliation and equality, it is one of the culminating events of it.  It shows we have a majority in this country that doesn’t care much your color as long as they approve of your character.  That’s "The Dream".  No, we are have not been perfected in this, but we are not perfect in anything.  There are always problems.  There are always improvements to be made.  But as a nation, I think we can hold our heads up high on this matter. 

However, Judge Sotomayor thinks white guys, over half a century after Brown v. Board of Education, still can’t judge fairly.  Thanks for your vote of confidence.

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