Letters to the Editor
Jurists and Politics
Posted Sep 1, 2010 3:10 AM CST
As an attorney of nearly 30 years and a member of the ABA for all that time, I, too, would like to point out trends (realities?) as shown in the July issue of the ABA Journal.
When litigating, it has become the norm to focus on political and/or gender issues for those jurists we face as the key point of our strategy. It is terrific that women have made such significant strides in this profession as to constitute eight of the 13 chief justices of the Southeastern states' highest courts ("Tipping the Scales," July, 2010). That, however, is not the point of the article—and, while it is not pressing the point, the result of an objective analysis of the article is that politics is now so significant a part of our judicial system that one must express great concern that it has corrupted that system.
While you may quote political adviser and pollster Celinda Lake to give credence to the notion that "voters recognize qualities in judicial candidates that the legal and political elites don't," would it be too much to objectively look at those states that elect their judges and point out the percentage of instances where the individual runs unopposed? In Oregon, I am confident you would discover that most judges are initially appointed by the governor in response to a midterm retirement, and that in more than 90 percent of instances judges run unopposed for later election/re-election.
As for preparing to present issues before the highest court in our land, the focus of "The 'Super Median,' " is on what key justice(s) can sway a decision and the types of perspectives that will sway them—not just from the standpoint of the litigant, but of the others on that bench. See you nothing wrong with this?
Are not objectivity, reasoned argument and freedom from emotion the cornerstones of a blind and therefore just legal system? If we cannot show, and rightly praise, such objectivity, is not our focus on "judicial independence" nothing more than a focus on how/why jurists should be activists instead of objective arbiters of fact and law?
To have a truly independent judicial system, our jurists—and the legal professionals from which they are drawn—must show that as their commitment and their focus. What your articles show, and apparently advocate, is that our country continues to develop and harvest annual crops of politicians, not attorneys.
Scott W. McGraw
"Immigration RX," July 2010, quotes then-ABA President Carolyn B. Lamm in large print saying the Arizona statute is "based on prejudice and fear—one whose purpose is to be divisive." She is entitled to her personal opinion. But the article should make clear that she is not speaking on behalf of the ABA or its members. And it should have presented the opposite side.
Illegal immigrants came with the tacit blessing of the federal government as shown by lack of attention (or intentional inattention). There should be a humane way, other than simple amnesty, for most of them to attain citizenship. There should be a legal, practical way for more to enter legally. But first, illegal immigration should be ended.
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