Thursday, November 02, 2006

Right To Life Misrepresents Judges' Records

A part of the election ballot that gets little attention in advance of the election is the retention ballot for judges of the state Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals. Typically, the lack of attention to the retention ballot results in overwhelming votes to retain sitting judges. This year, however, Indiana Right to Life is mounting a campaign to unseat judges standing for retention. Not surprisingly, disinformation is being fed to voters in the process. In particular, the group is targeting one supreme court justice and four court of appeals judges, all but one of whom was appointed by former Gov. Evan Bayh (D).

Incidentally, I'm reporting on Right to Life's position on these judges via Micah Clark of the American Family Association of Indiana because it adds to the entertainment value. Clark's organization is a nonprofit and, as such, cannot endorse or oppose candidates for public office, but guys like Clark and Eric Miller never let that get in their way. Here's how he explains it:

AFA cannot endorse candidates (that’s a role for AFA of Indiana’s PAC). However, as an educational entity, I can report the actions of other organizations. Thankfully, Indiana Right to Life’s Political Action Committee has done some helpful research on the six judicial retention questions on the Indiana ballot this fall. They have found some troubling rulings from four judges on Indiana’s Court of Appeals, and one member of the Indiana Supreme Court. They are recommending voting “no” on judicial retention questions.
Moving on to the most important judge up for retention, let's see what they have to say about Justice Frank Sullivan. Clark says, “[He] wrote the majority opinion that expanded taxpayer funding for abortions in Indiana through Medicaid.” This actually involved a case where a pregnant woman was being denied access to an abortion, even though her doctor said she faced permanent impairment to bodily functions if her pregnancy was not terminated. The Supreme Court ruled that to deprive her of access to an abortion was a violation of her right to equal protection under the Indiana Constitution. The Right to Life's explanation of Sullivan's opinion is disingenuous to say the least.

On Court of Appeals Judge Edward Najam, Right to Life says he “wrote the majority opinion in a ruling that Indiana parents may not bring wrongful death suits for the death of unborn child, regardless of whether the child is viable or not.” I don't know about the rest of you, but I really don't want to see my insurance rates go up a whole lot higher than what they already are. If you allow double recovery for one husband because the wife he lost was one month pregnant and not for the husband who lost a wife but was planning to have children, it doesn't seem really fair to me. Ironically, Right to Life is dinging Najam even though he was the only dissenting vote against the recent Court of Appeals ruling allowing same-sex parent adoptions in Indiana. Court of Appeals Judge Ezra Frielander is dinged by Right to Life for writing the majority opinion in that case. Friedlaner, the group laments, [W]rote the majority opinion in a ruling recognizing parental rights of same sex couples.”

Court of Appeals Judge Terry Crone earns the groups enmity for “rul[ing] that Planned Parenthood need not deliver documents on minors to the Attorney General in the AG’s investigation into whether Planned Parenthood is properly reporting child sexual abuse in Indiana.” Actually, the ruling upheld the constitutional right to privacy with respect to one's medical records, but let's not confuse you with the facts.

Finally, Court of Appeals Judge Patricia Riley is nixed because she “ruled that same sex orientation should have no bearing on parental custody, supported same sex adoption in Indiana, and overturned a court order barring divorcing parents from exposing their child to Wiccan satanic practices.” Yes, it's true that Judge Riley thinks that child custody issues should be based on the long-standing standard of the "child's best interest" and not based on the sexual orientation of the parent. Yes, she interprets Indiana's statutory adoption law to allow unmarried individuals, whether gay or straight, to adopt a child if the adoption is in the "child's best interests" because the statute makes no such distinction between adopting parents. And yes, Judge Riley slapped Marion County Superior Court Judge Cale Bradford's hand for telling the parents of a child they could not expose their child to the Wiccan religion without a showing that either the physical health of the child is endangered or the emotional health of the child is impaired because that's what the statute passed by the General Assembly says about the matter.

Well, this has been an entertaining exercise for me. For my part, I'm going to show the American Family Association and Indiana Right to Life what I think about their silly musings about our judges and vote to retain each and every one of them.


Wilson46201 said...

I quite agree with AI ... my usual policy is to blanket-vote against retaining any Judge whatsoever just to remind them of a certain amount of public input. I cant recall of any Judge being unseated by these elections but they shouldnt get too cocky and distant - just on general principles.

This time I will vote however to retain ALL judges and recommend to others to do the same. Put that in your pipe, Micah and Eric, and smoke it!

Anonymous said...

Thank God we didn't buckle to Eric's organization's request, andput all appeals/Suprmes on the ballot for direct election.

Is this more work of Terre Haute attorney Bopp, AI? What a slimeball he is. He has formed a group that's sent me at least four direct-mail ieces for Kathryn Densborn. All of them sleazy.

Anonymous said...

(By the way, Gary, it is when you delve into the true legal issues surrounding these things that your service is especially valuable.)

Anonymous said...

This is easy!! Since they all wanted major moves so bad I can simply vote NO not to retain them. We are the judges now! Have a great day and join us Hoosiers at the unemployment line.

Anonymous said...

7:44 must be drinking the fishtank water again.

Also on the ballot for retention this year, I think, is Jim Kirsch, a former Marion Superior Court judge. A great guy.

I can relay this: most of the Bayh/O'Bannon/Kernan court appointments are holding on for two more years. I don't know a one who will retire, and several are certainly eligible.

I can only shudder to think what kind of Appeals/Supreme judge MMM would appoint. Scary.

(Is Esther Schneider an attorney?)
(Joel Silverman?) (that little weasel at DNR Kyle?)

He might elevate Cale Bradford...the same judge who sat on the city council district case, even though his brother was o the ballot, and was soundly thumped by the appeals court dor doing so, and was overturned on every single legal point he raised. Bradford is the rumored MMM appointment the enxt time one comes open.

Which is reason enough to insist on life support for all the judges.

Writerfortruth said...

Thanks for bringing this up There's an interesting case in this vein at