JUDGES ARE NOT POLITICIANS? 

John Roberts made it clear that judges henceforth are directed
To give up raising money to ensure they’re re-elected.
To act like politicians is against the law’s decorum,
So henceforth friends and lobbyists will have to do it for ‘em 

            Williams-Yulee v. Florida Bar. A breakthrough case , said liberal publications, for it could set limits to the torrents of money pouring into state judicial races. And this from the  same Supreme Court, under the same Chief Justice Roberts, which had opened the election money spigot in Citizens United.

            Roberts’ rationale for turning against his own earlier decision and his four conservative colleagues? “Judges are not politicians.” That they make decisions on political issues is clear. That they are influenced in at least some degree by their own political preferences is apparent in the fact that on key political issues the same five Supreme Court justices appointed by Republican Presidents commonly vote as a bloc against the four appointed by Democrats. Yet here Roberts was breaking against the bloc vote and endorsing an idea advocated by liberals in muck-raising novels (John Grisham’s “The Appeal”) and in editorial cartoons (Danziger drasws a judge saying to money-laden lobbyists “Well, I’ve reached a judgment, but I though to first see what you fellows thought.”)

            But if celebrations are in order, New York Times columnist Gail Collins tells us to hold the champagne. Roberts’ ruling says that while state judges can no longer raise money for their own campaigns, they can have campaign committees; they can ask those committees to raise money for them; they can personally contact potential supporters as long as they don’t ask for money; they can thank them for their contibutions; they  can promote their own candidacy on TV and other media.

            Even so Roberts went too far for his fellow Citizens United enthusiasts. Scalia found the limitations on lobbyist spending “a wildly disproportionate restriction.” Alito, though also voting against Roberts, jeered that: “This rule is about as narrowly balanced as a burlap bag.” 

            So, the claim by the Daily Kos that this case is “a HUGE win” for supporters of spending limits in judicial elections is a sad indication of the liberals’ need for solace in coping with a profoundly flawed political system.  


Posted on Sunday, May 03, 2015 (Archive on Saturday, January 27, 2018)



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