|Judge Runs For Office|
Some things never seem to go away, so today let's revisit the issue of judicial bias.
On this date in 2009 Dredd Blog talked about how judicial prejudices in the states can be increased.
We noted that when judges are not only elected, in regular political elections, but then when they also have financial or other links to a case they are assigned to decide, it should not be controversial to not have them decide that case.
Nevertheless, the Supreme Court was divided on that seemingly simple issue, the right wing of the court thinking it was ok.
The text of that 2009 post follows:
The U.S. Supreme Court held to common sense, and used the smell test to decide that it is not constitutional to have a judge with an apparent bias sit on a case being heard in an appeals court.
Most people on the street would say DUH!, but the right wing of the Supreme Court filed dissents.
Chief Justice Roberts, Justice Scalia, Justice Alito, and Justice Thomas, predictably ganged up to say it is constitutional for a judge to decide a case involving that judge's number one political campaign contributor.
The right wing of the court just did not get the notion that due process of law requires an impartial judge, and that impartiality must appear to be there and must actually be there.
In this case a jury rendered a $50 million dollar verdict in the trial court against a company that contributed to the election campaign of a judge on the court of appeals to which the jury verdict was appealed.
The judge who received the monetary benefit from one of the litigants did not recuse himself from that case, but heard it over protestations.
Professor Turley puts it this way:
A divided court voted 5-4 in Caperton v. A.T. Massey Coal, et al. (08-22) that West Virginia Justice Brent D. Benjmain violated the constitution by sitting on a case involving the major donor in his campaign, A.T. Massey’s chief executive, Don Blankenship.(Jonathan Turley). Why does a political party, which espouses a certain political persuasion, call themselves "right" when they are increasingly "wrong"?
This is an enormously important decision in establishing constitutional protections for litigants from judicial bias and abuse. Justice Anthony Kennedy again played his swing vote role.
Hopefully the moderates, like Justice Kennedy who voted with the 5 Justice majority, will hold back the unbalanced federal judiciary which is more to the right than it has been in 7 or 8 decades.
This case is another indicator of the distastefulness of members of the judiciary running for election like politicians.
The federal judiciary has been purged of that problem.
We decried the "politicization" of the U.S. Department of Justice because it is a known moral hazard to politicize the practice of the law.
So what are the states waiting for? Those states that don't already need to have their governors nominate judges, and then have state senates approve or disapprove of those nominees.
The Supreme Court is losing respect in the public sector.