An Antidote to the Conservative Judiciary

This article suggests that President Obama will "drastically reshape" the Fourth Circuit when, in the near future, he nominates judges to fill circuit vacancies. It's about time.

In recent years, the Fourth Circuit had become the most assertively conservative court in the nation. Its judges have taken the lead in trying to reduce federal power in several areas, even once trying to lead the way in undoing the Miranda rule that criminal suspects must be apprised of their rights before they answer questions. The court’s conservative majority also tried to roll back affirmative action policies and was reliably supportive of Bush administration efforts to widen presidential authority in detaining terrorism suspects without trial or charges without Congressional input.

An essential mission of the Obama administration should be to restore balance to the federal judiciary, not just in the Fourth Circuit. [more ...]

Because Republicans have controlled the White House for all of the last 28 years except the eight years of the Clinton presidency, more than 60 percent of the judiciary is made up of Republican-nominated judges. The result is Republican control of eight of the regional appeals courts; Democrats have a majority in two circuits, the Second and the Ninth, based in San Francisco. The Third Circuit, based in Philadelphia, is split 6 to 6, with two vacancies.

The conservative goal of moving the courts to the right has been achieved:

[Studies show that Republican-appointed judges] tend to be more restrictive of abortion rights, less accommodating to criminal defendants and sharply skeptical of expanding federal authority at the expense of the states.

"Less accommodating to criminal defendants" means less willing to enforce the constitutional rights that protect the accused, as well as the rights that protect our privacy. Let's hope for 20 years of Democratic presidencies as an antidote to the conservative dominance of the federal judiciary.

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    Obama's Judicial Nominees will be "safe" (5.00 / 0) (#5)
    by tokin librul on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 06:27:11 PM EST
    There won't be a real liberal among 'em.

    Not one.

    On ANY Court.

    Wouldn't wanna be "divisive" yaknow?

    And for 6 of 8 Clinton years, a GOP Senate ... (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by RonK Seattle on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 08:08:03 PM EST
    ... embargoed Clinton nominations, or forced him into horsetrading

    Restore Balance? (none / 0) (#1)
    by bocajeff on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 02:03:13 PM EST
    Interesting choice of words there. Let's be honest, not only do you want their to be balance toward the left, but you would really rather have it be left leaning.

    Would you really want to restore the balance if all the judges were progressives? I doubt it.

    Just be honest with your words: You want a more progressive judiciary.

    It would take a lot of Progressive Judges (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by MKS on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 03:02:46 PM EST
    to come close to balance.....We're a long ways from even a 50/50 balance....



    I think what we all should want is (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by Anne on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 03:59:18 PM EST
    a judiciary where the decisions are not a foregone conclusion or a rubber stamp for any particular political or ideological agenda - regardless of who is in power.  

    In other words, fair.  Or more fair than it appears it has been.

    If you're worried about an extreme change of direction as a result of Obama's judicial appointments, I think you might be giving him credit for being more liberal than he is.


    Yeah (none / 0) (#6)
    by MrConservative on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 07:21:44 PM EST
    I do want a more liberal judiciary.  Even if all the conservatives on the court retired immediately and Obama had to replace them all, the court would be left leaning enough for me.  I'm not kidding.

    *wouldn't (none / 0) (#7)
    by MrConservative on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 07:22:16 PM EST
    "balance" (none / 0) (#11)
    by diogenes on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 08:51:44 PM EST
    If these guys wanted "balance" then they would want Obama to appoint conservative judges to the ninth circuit too.  Somehow I doubt it.

    no (none / 0) (#15)
    by CST on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 10:42:20 AM EST
    balance on the ninth circuit would require only new liberal judges just to make it slightly-right leaning instead of what it is today which is super-right leaning.

    If the republicans had made balanced choices and it was currently a 50-50 split, then sure, throw them a bone or two.  But that's not how it went down.


    same ninth circuit? (none / 0) (#17)
    by diogenes on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 03:28:55 PM EST
    The ninth circuit is already majority democratic. If you're saying that it's not liberal enough for you and that the new norm for all circuit courts should be somewhere to the left of the present ninth circuit, then I guess we disagree.

    oops (none / 0) (#18)
    by CST on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 05:00:16 PM EST
    wrong circuit, not reading well today...

    Is it (none / 0) (#3)
    by Wile ECoyote on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 03:41:10 PM EST
    bad to be skeptical of expanding federal power at the expense of the states?  

    Quite frankly (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by MrConservative on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 07:23:06 PM EST
    I don't care about 'states rights'.  What have 'states rights' given us in our history besides slavery and civil rights injustice?  Human rights come before states right.

    um ok (none / 0) (#12)
    by Wile ECoyote on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 09:02:37 PM EST
    Is this the court that (none / 0) (#9)
    by hairspray on Wed Mar 11, 2009 at 08:07:17 PM EST
    sent Dan Seigleman  back to jail?

    Actually (none / 0) (#13)
    by DancingOpossum on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 10:17:14 AM EST
    States rights are supremely important in terms of allowing states to set and follow their own laws free from intrusion by the federal government. If you think that means nothing but slavery think again. A huge issue facing state legislatures, consumer rights advocates,  and civil /civil justice lawyers is federal preemption of state laws.  

    Yes (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by MrConservative on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 02:06:26 PM EST
    But 99% of the time, when a conservative mentions "states rights", he's really talking about the federal government restraining the ability of states to infringe on human rights.

    that was supposed to be (none / 0) (#14)
    by DancingOpossum on Thu Mar 12, 2009 at 10:17:51 AM EST
    civil rights/civil justice lawyers...