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May 5, 2009

Looking (a bit too hard) for problems for SCOTUS short listers

I am a bit disappointed, though not really surprised, by this new Slate piece from Emily Bazelon, titled "Future Dangerousness: The tricky sex offender case that could trip up one of the judges on the short list to replace Souter."   The piece is focused on Judge Diane Wood and examines a 2004 case from the Seventh Circuit, Doe v. City of Lafayette, in which Judge Wood voted in favor of a sex offender — first as the swing vote in a split panel and then as a dissenter after the case was reviewed en banc.

I have no problems closely examining significant opinions authored by judges who are possible SCOTUS nominees (though I wish the media would focus a lot more on possible candidates others than circuit judges).  But in this 2004 Doe case, Judge Wood merely cast a vote, she did not even write an opinion. 

If Judge Wood (or any judge) gets tapped for the top court, all votes in all cases seem to be fair game for analysis and criticisms.  But, only days after Justice Souter announced his retirement, it seems a bit too early to be looking so hard for problems in the voting records of well-regarded experienced jurists — jurists who, if they are doing their jobs right, will have sometimes concluded that the law called for a ruling that might not win majority approval by voters.

May 5, 2009 at 08:59 AM | Permalink


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Our Federal Judges are the most impartial when it comes to political influence; they are the only true independant court of the land. They are not voted on by the public in terms of serving as a justice, except for confirmation. Once appointed the judge sit for life, and in good conduct and vannot be removed otherwise.

That is why mostly adequate and fair rulings come the SCOTUS; because the public cannot enforce mob rule upon the justices.

Posted by: JohnDoeUtah | May 5, 2009 9:32:50 AM

Given Obama's no vote against Roberts and his attempted filibuster of Alito (and this is not to mention all of the bogus crap pulled by Dems with respect to Bush's nominees), there is absolutely nothing that is out of bounds with respect to anyone Obama appoints.

Posted by: federalist | May 5, 2009 11:20:25 AM

I would imagine that as soon as Franken gets seated, there will be much that is "out of bounds," and deservedly so.

Posted by: Mark#1 | May 5, 2009 11:26:00 AM

Agree completely with needing to look beyond circuit judges. We need a lawyer on the Court who has represented real people with real problems. Preferably a poverty lawyer. One would think our community organizer-President would be down with that. The POTUS should also consider some fabulous federal district judges with unique experiences and "empathy". There are some very good ones: Ann Aiken in Oregon (currently chief district judge and creator of one of the first federal reentry courts; also co-founder of Oregon Relief Nursery and former state court judge), Carol Jackson in Missouri Eastern (first African American chief district judge there), Martha Vasquez in New Mexico (former public defender and her parents were undocumented immigrants), to name only a few...

Posted by: The Sherman Office | May 5, 2009 11:27:34 AM

To paraphrase federalist's comment: It's payback time, Obama.

Posted by: anon | May 5, 2009 11:29:33 AM

I heard Diana Wood's lecture on C-SPAN about immigration. She must have benefited from affirmative action for special ed, mental handicap students.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | May 5, 2009 12:03:33 PM

Yep. And Obama deserves it. He cannot complain about anything on this score.

Posted by: federalist | May 5, 2009 12:05:59 PM

And, of course, the payback mentality always leads to the result that's in the best interest of the country. Right?

Posted by: anon | May 5, 2009 12:09:33 PM

With respect to Obama and judges, you bet it does. Anon, the guy filibustered Alito and said nary a word about the incredibly nasty attacks on him by Senator Kennedy and others. Barack Obama has no business getting a single solitary judge appointed to the federal bench.

Posted by: federalist | May 5, 2009 12:49:44 PM

Since it's war anyway, I suggest Sarah Tofte of Human Rights Watch. Obama is an evidence-based pragmatist and Human Rights Watch relies on evidence, not propaganda. Perfect fit.

Note too how the "moralists" ignore Washington States nursing program. It's to damn liberal even if it saves $2.88 for even punishment dollar spent and saves countless victimizations. They don't really care about the victims but do care about belittling anything "too liberal." Once Sentator Webb's crime study comes out, the pols will have the ammo to fight the propaganda.

Posted by: George | May 5, 2009 2:11:43 PM

it saves $2.88 for EVERY punishment dollar spent

Posted by: George | May 5, 2009 2:36:05 PM

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