PDA

View Full Version : Ashcroft and the "blacklisting" of judges


Sayhey
Aug 10, 2003, 12:53 PM
The NY Times has this story in today's pages:

http://www.nytimes.com/2003/08/10/opinion/10SUN2.html?th

Does anyone else get the impression the Attorney-General has never read 1984?

Ambrose Chapel
Aug 10, 2003, 01:56 PM
this from a man who lost an election to his deceased opponent...

here's hoping we get more mandatory minimum sentences for first time drug offenders!!

IJ Reilly
Aug 10, 2003, 03:29 PM
Originally posted by Sayhey
Does anyone else get the impression the Attorney-General has never read 1984?

Read it? He practically wrote it!

zimv20
Aug 10, 2003, 06:09 PM
i like how the administration that championed states' rights in the election feels free to intimidate from the federal level.

pseudobrit
Aug 10, 2003, 06:25 PM
Oh, that's the NY Times. You can't believe anything they say anymore.

(Just saving the counterpoint folks the trouble)

zimv20
Aug 10, 2003, 08:10 PM
justice kennedy had something to say about it:


While the justice said he believes there is a need for guidelines, "I can accept neither the necessity nor the wisdom of federal mandatory minimum sentences. In too many cases mandatory minimum sentences are unwise and unjust."

He urged ABA members to ask Congress to repeal federal mandatory minimum sentences and "let the judges be judges."


http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=564&e=6&u=/nm/crime_lawyers_dc

Sayhey
Aug 10, 2003, 08:48 PM
Originally posted by zimv20
i like how the administration that championed states' rights in the election feels free to intimidate from the federal level.

They proved their situational ethics from the very beginning with the challenge of Florida's Supreme Court's jurisdiction in Bush v. Gore.

Ashcroft seems the perfect man for the job as he seems unbothered by any constitutional questions about our civil liberties under the guise of fighting terror. Here the presumption is that the prosecutor always know best. We have a folding together of the role of prosecuting attorney and judge. The idea of impartial justice is almost forgotten.

Backtothemac
Aug 11, 2003, 12:43 AM
Originally posted by Sayhey
They proved their situational ethics from the very beginning with the challenge of Florida's Supreme Court's jurisdiction in Bush v. Gore.

Ashcroft seems the perfect man for the job as he seems unbothered by any constitutional questions about our civil liberties under the guise of fighting terror. Here the presumption is that the prosecutor always know best. We have a folding together of the role of prosecuting attorney and judge. The idea of impartial justice is almost forgotten.

Florida was a federal issue because it was a State Supreme Court legislating from the bench. Nothing more.

As for impartial justice. Doesn't exist any longer. Because attorney's, and judges have become political entities. They judge off of their ideals instead of the law.

3rdpath
Aug 11, 2003, 01:10 AM
Originally posted by Backtothemac
They judge off of their ideals instead of the law.

well of course they judge off their ideas...what exactly would a judge do if not interpret the seriousness of a crime and it's proper penalty.

proposing we take the human capacity for reason out of the sentencing process is just stupid. it belittles the intuitive powers we possess and makes a mockery of our judicial system. the fact that there is a guideline of "recommeded" sentences demonstrates that the process MUST be interpreted based upon the severity of the crime.

if a judge feels the punishment is less(or more) than the federal guidelines...than so be it.

now, if we could only get rid of those pesky juries...:rolleyes:

Sayhey
Aug 11, 2003, 01:31 AM
Originally posted by Backtothemac
Florida was a federal issue because it was a State Supreme Court legislating from the bench. Nothing more.

As for impartial justice. Doesn't exist any longer. Because attorney's, and judges have become political entities. They judge off of their ideals instead of the law.

We can of course rehash the 2000 election all over again, but my point was to point out the contradiction in the viewpoints of Bush and his administration from day one. After a lifetime of shouting "states rights" the Bush campaign jumped to the Federal Courts to try and outflank what they rightly or wrongly thought was a unfavorable State Court. It didn't seem they were too committed to the principle of state jurisdiction when they thought they might lose.

As to attorneys and judges becoming political entities, I'd say they always have been. The point is to have a balance of power where the prosecution doesn't hold all the cards.

zimv20
Aug 11, 2003, 01:36 AM
Originally posted by Sayhey
The point is to have a balance of power where the prosecution doesn't hold all the cards.

the prosecutor's job is to get a conviction, not see that justice has been served. i know a DA. her attitude is "even if person X is not guilty of this crime, he's guilty for something, so i'm gonna nail him."

she says that attitude is widespread in her office.

Sayhey
Aug 11, 2003, 01:44 AM
Originally posted by zimv20
the prosecutor's job is to get a conviction, not see that justice has been served. i know a DA. her attitude is "even if person X is not guilty of this crime, he's guilty for something, so i'm gonna nail him."

she says that attitude is widespread in her office.

A prosecutor is supposed to temper that zeal for conviction with a committment to justice. I'm sure you agree, the attitude you describe is all the more reason to have judges who are not intimidated by Ashcroft or anyone else at the prosecutor's table.

toontra
Aug 11, 2003, 03:50 AM
Originally posted by 3rdpath
now, if we could only get rid of those pesky juries...:rolleyes:

You joke, but in the UK Blair and his legal buddies are proposing just that - trial without jury. Initially they say, only in cases where a jury "would not be able to follow the complexities of the evidence", but who will decide that? And what's to say an increasing number of cases would not go down this route (after all, it would be far cheaper).

mcrain
Aug 11, 2003, 09:20 AM
I have no problem with trying to make sure that Federal (and state) judges are highly qualified when they are appointed, and also that they maintain a level of skill and professionalism during their time on the bench.

BUT, the huge problem with this is that the prosecutors will be the ones compiling the data and will have the power to make data skewed one way or the other. Plus, the yardstick they are choosing to use is mandetory minimum sentences. Something I don't like, not because they are wrong, but because they are the legislature telling the judiciary how to do their job. Before the right wing decided that this country needed to stick every black male between 15 and 30 in jail, the judiciary did just fine on its own without the legislature telling them what to do and how to do it.

Oh, BTTM, the Florida Supreme Court's decision in 2000 dealt with a state election law, and the state's interpretation of that law. There were NO federal questions. The only federal issue was that because the effect the state interpretation of state law had on a federal election. The Supreme Court overstepped what it had previously defined as its own boundaries.

Backtothemac
Aug 11, 2003, 09:31 AM
Originally posted by mcrain

Oh, BTTM, the Florida Supreme Court's decision in 2000 dealt with a state election law, and the state's interpretation of that law. There were NO federal questions. The only federal issue was that because the effect the state interpretation of state law had on a federal election. The Supreme Court overstepped what it had previously defined as its own boundaries.

I don't think so Tim. ;)

The federal question was that it was a federal election. AND that a State Court was legislating from the Bench. It is the Federal court's obligation to enforce the Constitution on the States. They cannot violate the division of powers that is in the Constitution, and the FLA supreme court did.

mcrain
Aug 11, 2003, 09:46 AM
We're going to disagree for two reasons. One, you're wrong, and two, I actually know what I'm talking about. ;)

The Florida Supreme Court was interpreting state law and state application of the state law. Period. The US Supreme Court would ordinarily not get involved in such a situation.

This had nothing to do with the US Constitution. This had nothing to do with the State Court "legislating" from the bench b/c in all honesty, when an issue gets to the level of a Supreme Court (federal or state), any decision is a form of "legislating." WHAT, you say? A decision to say a law is unconstitutional is a decision that declares a law invalid. That is, in essence, a form of legislating. So is a court interpreting the scope of a law. So is a court saying a law means something different than what was expected or even intended.

Backtothemac
Aug 11, 2003, 11:26 AM
Originally posted by mcrain
We're going to disagree for two reasons. One, you're wrong, and two, I actually know what I'm talking about. ;)

The Florida Supreme Court was interpreting state law and state application of the state law. Period. The US Supreme Court would ordinarily not get involved in such a situation.

This had nothing to do with the US Constitution. This had nothing to do with the State Court "legislating" from the bench b/c in all honesty, when an issue gets to the level of a Supreme Court (federal or state), any decision is a form of "legislating." WHAT, you say? A decision to say a law is unconstitutional is a decision that declares a law invalid. That is, in essence, a form of legislating. So is a court interpreting the scope of a law. So is a court saying a law means something different than what was expected or even intended.

SNAP! ;)
Actually you are correct the State supreme court can say that the law was wrong, however, at that point they have to remand the law to the legislature. They cannot rewrite the law. ;)

sturm375
Aug 11, 2003, 11:44 AM
I noticed from the very beginning when the current adminstration choose the Zealous Ashcrap as the A.G.

Case1: California legailzed select growers and distributers of medicianal(sp?) Marjuana(sp?). Ashcrap decided to put a stop to this, and used federal agents to enforce his moral objections to these drugs. Several people in Cali. proposed using the State Malitia to keep Ashcrap's agents out. (A small civil war?)

Case2: Oregan legalized assisted suicide for terminally ill, and in pain patients. This of course was a moral outrage for the Fundamentalist Ashcrap. So he decreed that any doctor that preformed this assisted suicide, would have their medical license revoked immeadiatly (without trial).

And now this "List" of "easy" judges.

A wise man once said: (paraphrase) When the government does not trust the people it governs, it has lost it's mandate to govern.

I think that describes exactly what is going on in DC right now. Either something big is going to happen soon (like huge protests, massive strikes, possibly even armed conflict), or America as was founded 227 years ago, will no longer exist.

zimv20
Aug 11, 2003, 01:14 PM
today's molly ivins piece:

MONDAY August 11, 2003

Ivins: There is a feel of something more creepy than just bad policies

by Molly Ivins

Creators Syndicate

___ CAMDEN, Maine -- Let us stop to observe a few mileposts on the downward path to the utter degradation of political discourse in this country.
___ A recent newspaper advertising campaign by "independent" groups supporting President Bush shows a closed courtroom door with the sign, "Catholics Need Not Apply," hanging on it. The ad argues that William Pryor Jr., attorney general of Alabama and a right-wing anti-abortion nominee to the federal appeals court, is under attack for his "deeply held" Catholic beliefs.
___ Actually, Pryor is under attack because he is a hopeless dipstick. That he also happens to be Catholic and anti-abortion has nothing to do with his unfitness for the federal bench. The only person I know who believes one's closely held religious and moral convictions should make one ineligible for the federal bench is Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Scalia argued last year that any judge who is opposed to the death penalty should resign, on account of it is the law.
___ By that reasoning, any judge who is opposed to abortion out of deep moral conviction should also resign. Even though that would include Scalia's resignation, an eventuality devoutly to be wished in my opinion, I think he's wrong.
___ Pryor has said that Roe vs. Wade "ripped the Constitution and ripped out the life of millions of unborn children." Hey, there's objectivity for you.
___ His record on civil rights, states' rights and gay rights is equally ideological. He has a record of incendiary comments, which certainly bring into question his "judicial temperament." When the Supreme Court delayed an execution in Alabama, Pryor called them "nine octogenarian lawyers."
___ The New York Times observed, "He has turned the Alabama attorney general's office into a taxpayer-financed right-wing law firm." He has argued against a key part of the Voting Rights Act and was the only state attorney general to argue against the Violence Against Women Act. Who cares if he's Catholic? He'd be a disgrace on the bench if he were a Buddhist.
___ Moving right on down the road to complete ideological madness, we now have the House Judiciary Committee threatening to investigate the sentencing records of every federal judge in the country for suspected "political" bias. All this stems from the matter of James Rosenbaum, chief judge for the Minnesota Federal District Court, who thinks sentencing guidelines for low-level drug dealers are too harsh.
___ Is there anyone who doesn't think so? Even the Texas legislature, that model of 19th-century thinking, has decided we should provide treatment for first-time small drug offenders, rather than locking them up for years. Locking them up is getting to be a very expensive proposition in our very broke state, but surely that had nothing to do with their decision.
___ After Rosenbaum's testimony, the Judiciary Committee, chaired by Rep. James Sensenbrenner, prepared to subpoena Rosenbaum's records to see if he had imposed any "unlawfully lenient sentences." In fact he had, giving one guy four years (nine months below the guidelines) and another a month less that the minimum recommended.
___ The sentencing guidelines are the consequence of a 1984 crime law, passed at the height of the drug hysteria, that took effect in 1987. Victoria Toensing, Rosenbaum's lawyer, said: "I was present at the creation of those guidelines. May God forgive me for ever supporting them." Amen.
___ Look, these sentencing guidelines are awful. Everybody knows they're awful, so now anyone who stands up and says so gets subpoenaed? Do you realize how banana-republic this is? Texas Rep. Lamar Smith, one of the many ornaments we have exported to Washington, claims the seven-member Sentencing Commission is "systematically trying to lessen the drug penalties." I should hope bloody so. If showing evidence of elementary common sense is grounds for a subpoena, stick a fork in us, we're done.
___ The "Watch on the Rhine" quality of our public life these days deserves serious attention. As one who studies the small, buried stories on the back pages of major newspapers, I am becoming increasingly uneasy. This is more than just, "Boy, do their policies suck." There's a creepy advance of something more menacing than bad policies.
___ I keep thinking of Mussolini's definition of fascism: "Fascism should more properly be called corporatism,' since it is the marriage of government and corporate power." When was the last time we saw this administration do something that involved standing up to some corporate special interest in favor of the great majority of the people?
___-----
___Creators Syndicate, Inc.


http://www.sltrib.com/2003/Aug/08112003/commenta/82944.asp

Sayhey
Aug 11, 2003, 01:18 PM
Originally posted by Backtothemac
I don't think so Tim. ;)

The federal question was that it was a federal election. AND that a State Court was legislating from the Bench. It is the Federal court's obligation to enforce the Constitution on the States. They cannot violate the division of powers that is in the Constitution, and the FLA supreme court did.

Problem is that the Bush campaign filed in federal court before there ever was a decision from the State Supreme Court. If they did so because it was a federal election, that is a reversal of the state's rights position of the Republicans for many years standing. It seems to me they did it because the Federal Court was more conservative and they thought their case stood a better chance there. My whole point was to show the situational ethics involved in their legal strategy and I think it's pretty out there for all to see.

pseudobrit
Aug 11, 2003, 05:34 PM
States can decide how to hold their elections for president however they want; they can have a small delegate congress if they like, so long as they send their lot of voters to the electoral college they're fine under federal rules.

mactastic
Aug 12, 2003, 11:10 AM
You mean to say a political party flip-flopped on an issue for political expediency? I don't believe a word of it!:D