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Potential political corruption in the judiciary?

We have seen how the democrats savage judicial nominees for high judicial office. Nominees Bork, Thomas and Roberts suffered through contentious Senate confirmation hearings. All based on their support of political ideologies and not their personal competence and suitability to assume a position on the highest court in the land.

Now we are witnessing the political charade of the Sotomayor hearings. Acting as if Sotomayor has somehow distanced herself from the very words which indicate an unacceptable history of judicial activism. Another Ruth Bader Ginsberg in the making. A potentially divisive presence on the bench that  might prove to be insurmountable for people of the “wrong color” seeking justice before a blind bench committed to reviewing the facts, the law and rendering a fair and just opinion without resorting to any overt or covert biases. Someone who may view profit-making corporations as evil and give undue weight to environmentalists who want to use our own legal system to drag the United States into a third-world environment.

But troubling as this may see, we are now seeing a more troubling event on the judicial horizon …

As reported by Law.com, we are seeing:

Federal Judges Turn to Democratic Lobbyists

“It turns out that confirmation isn't the only thing judges want from Congress. Federal judges are hoping a new set of lobbyists with strong Democratic ties will be able to push their agenda on Capitol Hill, including laying the groundwork for what judges view as a long-overdue salary increase.”

Lobbyists not only act in the best interests of their clients, but often introduce stink and taint into the political process by engaging in subtle, but legal, “quid pro quo” deals with legislators.

Can we now trust a judiciary who might be beholden to certain members of Congress who may have provided key votes in affecting judicial salaries? In spite of the loud protestations of the judiciary, might we see a more prevalent pattern of corruption from the bench?

“The Federal Judges Association, together with one group representing U.S. magistrate judges and another representing U.S. bankruptcy judges, hired Patton Boggs partner Jonathan Yarowsky, a former general counsel to the House Judiciary Committee, as of April 1, according to a lobbying disclosure form filed earlier this month. The judges' groups also hired Steve Elmendorf of Elmendorf Strategies, a one-time aide to then-House Democratic Leader Dick Gephardt. Also on the team are four other Elmendorf lobbyists with Democratic ties, including Robert Cogorno, a former staffer for House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md.”

How much longer until they decide to be unionized and come under the influence of corrupt public service employees unions and engage in unethical events to further their own cause; thus further compromising the Founding Father’s creation of co-equal branches of government?

Now before someone waffles on about the independence of the judiciary and the fine and noble work that judges do, one might take the time to regard the ever increasing number of judges that are being sanctioned for inappropriate behavior, if not outright corruption.

“The Senate spent last week on its highest-profile task related to the judicial branch: confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor. But Congress also controls the federal purse strings, which means members control decisions about the judicial branch's budget and resources, including salaries, benefits and staff. Judges also warily watch for legislation they say could infringe on the judiciary's independence, such as appointment of an inspector general.”

"’We do have some legislative things that are important to us, and as they become important to us, we are going to direct our Washington representatives to act on our behalf,’ said Chief Judge Wiley Daniel of the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado. Daniel is president of the Federal Judges Association, which he said represents more than 900 federal district and appeals court judges. ‘This is broader than pay. It includes anything that will impact our economy and independence.’"

“The judges' groups have otherwise been without a lobbyist since the first quarter of 2008, when they ended their relationship with the Livingston Group and former Rep. Bob Livingston, R-La. The choice of the new lobbyists, with their heavily Democratic ties, reflects the political shifts in Washington, where Democrats now control both houses of Congress as well as the White House.”

The democrats often play hardball, exacting quid pro quo arrangements for their support. Such is the way of politics; but do we want to further inject politics into the judicial process? Might jurists be inherently biased when deciding cases which are representative of democratic law firms? While we would like to think that our judiciary is without taint, the Sotomayor hearings prove differently. That certain democrat elements of Congress are more likely than not to overlook certain ideological proclivities to put an activist judge on the bench.

The further creation of a pampered, political class of elite lawyers …

“So far, the new lobbying team has seen some success. The judges' groups strongly back a bill that would give judges another chance to enroll in a benefits plan known as the Judicial Survivors Annuities System, which pays an annuity to any dependents after a judge's death. Currently, the only opportunity judges have to elect to participate in the plan is when they are confirmed to the bench or promoted. The bill would create a one-time six-month enrollment window for current judges -- essentially a second chance. David Sellers, a spokesman for the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, said the plan is funded by member contributions, and the bill doesn't require any new government spending.”

If you can believe that the government is not providing some funding or implicit guarantees, perhaps you should invest in real estate being offered in Afghanistan. Ordinary people purchase insurance to protect their families. So what’s up with these special policies? And, if they are cost free to the government, why do they need Congressional approval? All insurance is technically financed by member contributions (premiums) … so what is so special about this plan? Perhaps we should remember that senior judges tend to be older and represent greater health risks due to the amount of stress that might be encountered on the bench. But as for special coverage, I think not. 

“Daniel said the judges will depend on the lobbyists to keep them abreast of legislation on which they need to weigh in. For instance, he said, Congress had previously considered appointing an inspector general for the judiciary, and the judges objected, arguing that it would compromise judicial independence.”

Perhaps someone should be keeping an eye on the independent judiciary? Normally this was a task of the mainstream media who would point out egregious examples of judicial misconduct and crazy rulings. But it seems that the mainstream media has compromised their journalistic ethics and have given themselves over to becoming propagandists for the democrat regime – perhaps in return for the corporate survival of their parent organizations.

Bottom line …

I am all for compensating judges commensurately with the skills and abilities they bring to the bench. For the stress and strain of dealing with a difficult workload. To insure that the judiciary has the resources to function in this era of increasing workloads and reduced budgets. I want to see an independent judiciary not beholden to some political party, individual politicians or lobbyists. I want to go back to an era, if it really existed, blind justice where those before the bench could get a fair and impartial hearing and that the laws were interpreted in light of original intent – not the social and political demands of today’s rather corrupt society.

I believe that the employment of lobbyists is potentially more damaging to the independence of the judiciary than the appointment of an inspector general to investigate cases of wrongdoing arising from personal or professional misconduct on and off the bench. Leaving the judiciary to investigate its own has proven to be somewhat ineffective as judges are rarely prosecuted to the full extent of the law after betraying their oath of office and the trust of the people who may have elected them to office. I also believe that there should be a judicial training program before on ascends to the bench and periodic exams to insure competency. I also believe that there should be term limits imposed on the Supreme Court to keep senility (dementia) from affecting rulings. We need to make our judiciary more accountable to the precepts of justice and impartial rulings.

-- steve


OneCitizenSpeaking: Saying out loud what you may be thinking …

Reference Links:

Law.com: Federal Judges Turn to Democratic Lobbyists

FEDERAL PENSIONS: Judicial Survivors’ Annuities System Costs|GAO Congressional Report (2002)

“For the 3 years covered by our review, the judges’ contributions represented more than the 50 percent of the JSAS normal costs for fiscal year 1999, but less than 50 percent for fiscal years 2000 and 2001. The participating judges paid 61 percent of JSAS normal costs during fiscal year 1999 and approximately 48 percent of JSAS normal costs during fiscal years 2000 and 2001. On the basis of data from plan years 1999, 2000, and 2001, the participating judges contributed, on an average, approximately 52 percent of JSAS normal costs; the government’s share amounted to, on an average, approximately 48 percent. While the judges’ contribution rate remained fixed at 2.2 percent and 3.5 percent of salaries for active and retired judges, respectively, the government’s contribution rate increased from 1.5 percent of salaries in fiscal year 1999 to 2.6 percent of salaries in
fiscal years 2000 and 2001. The increase in the government’s contribution was a result of an increase in normal costs resulting from a decline in the market value of assets held in JSAS, as well as an increase in plan benefits
being paid over the period

Wonder what those costs might be like after the meltdown of our financial system?

S. 1107 ES:  Judicial Survivors Protection Act of 2009 (Engrossed as Agreed to or Passed by Senate) -- “To amend title 28, United States Code, to provide for a limited 6-month period for Federal judges to opt into the Judicial Survivors' Annuities System and begin contributing toward an annuity for their spouse and dependent children upon their death, and for other purposes.”

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