Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Bopp Seeks To Turn Judges Into Legislators

The most common refrain we hear from the far right about so-called "liberal activist judges" is that they legislate from the bench. Well, apparently that's exactly what the far right's favorite legal mind, Jim Bopp, has in mind for all judges. Bopp, who has been the Indiana GOP's attorney/treasurer and is Gov. Daniels' choice to become the state GOP's national committeeman, is challenging on behalf of a Kentucky Supreme Court candidate a rule that prohibits judicial candidates from publicly declaring their political affiliation and their positions on various issues. The Louisville Courier-Journal reports:

A candidate for the Kentucky Supreme Court wants a federal court to throw out the state's judicial election rules because he says they prohibit him from offering his views on gay marriage, when life begins and other hot-button topics.

The candidate, Marcus Carey, whose Web site says he promotes "conservative values," also wants to strike down rules that bar judicial candidates from disclosing their party affiliation and from announcing endorsements by elected officials. Carey is the former chairman of the 4th Congressional District Republican Party.

"Voters want to know who we are and what we stand for before we are elected to the bench," Carey said.

In other words, the hell with an independent judiciary which decides cases and controversies based upon the Constitution and the law. If we can force judicial candidates in advance to announce that they are in favor of discrimination against gays and lesbians and other such matters, then we need never worry about that little obstacle we call the Constitution getting in our way. Let's just scrap the judicial branch altogether and let a tyrranical legislative majority oppress minority groups at will.

Fortunately, there are fair and rational thinking people in Kentucky's legal community who understand the danger in what Bopp is attempting to do. Wilfrid Schroder, the judicial candidate opposing Bopp's candidate, considers Bopp's lawsuit a direct attack on the independence of the judiciary. "Citizens need to know that their cases will be decided based on the constitution and the law and nothing else," he said. "As a citizen, you don't want your cases judged based on whether you are a Democrat or a Republican."

Bopp has already successfully chipped away at Kentucky's rules regarding the conduct of judicial candidates. A suit he brought last year on behalf of the Family Foundation of Kentucky forced the Kentucky Supreme Court to drop a rule that barred judicial candidates from making statements that "commit or appear to commit" them to positions on cases they likely would hear the Courier-Journal reports.

And a word on Marcus Carey, the "family values" supreme court candidate Bopp is representing. As a teenager, Carey had a little bit too much to drink at a high school graduation party and then got behind the wheel of a car and was involved in a crash that claimed the life of a 16-year old passenger in his car. Carey was convicted of negligent homicide but served only one month in jail. Why was this man allowed into law school and given a license to practice law? Was it just another youthful indiscretion of a religious hypocrite?

A big hat tip to the Indiana Law Blog for bringing this one to our attention.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


Jim Bopp has brought numerous cases around the country attempting to overturn judicial ethics rules relating to campaigns. He's representing Indiana Right to Life in a case pending in federal court in Lafayette right now, and has a half dozen or more cases around the country. This is another well-funded, well-orchestrated attempt by the right-wing fundamentalists to inject their cultural wedge issues into every possible election, in order to turn out their voters and to attempt to control every branch of government. So far, they've had some successes, as the 8th Circuit in particular has struck down some of the judicial ethics rules on First Amendment grounds.