Wednesday, April 27, 2005

California's (and maybe the whole country's?) Strange Justice

When considering what the Democrats in the Senate are trying to do in fillibuster the nominations of certain Bush appointments to the Federal Courts, one should really go and read what some of the justices believe in before immediately denouncing their "obstructionism." Forget for a moment that the Republicans denied up or down votes to numerous Clinton appointees (far more, by the way, than the Democrats have done to Bush, although they only did an actual fillibuster on one or two occasions, they used other techniques at other times), just look at where these judges will take this country, and it's a no-brainer - these people should not be sitting on any bench, let alone a lifetime appointment on the federal bench. Unless, that is, you want to take our country back nearly a century when the power of corporations and government over individuals was paramount, and people could be randomly thrown in jail for doing things like striking, speaking out against the government, being born of Japanese descent in the time of war, etc.... Many of these judges want to take us to an even more evil period, where the state will become one with religious authorities, so that we become, in effect, a theocracy.

Case in point is California Supreme Court Justice Janice Rogers Brown. Yesterday's LA Times quotes her at length speaking to a group of Catholic lawyers about the cultural war we are engaged in - secular humanists against people of faith, and how people of faith must crush those cursed secular humanists or perish, or something of the sort (alright, a little hyperbole, but read the whole article linked here or reprinted in my comments section if the link has expired to know exactly what she said - it's pretty extreme, and would pretty much turn us into an oligarcichal theocracy if her vision for the country were to succeed). She makes it clear that she is fighting a religious war against the "unbelievers" or "infidels" (my words, not hers). This is a modern day fight like the enlightenemnt, like Galileo against the Catholic church, like the Salem witch trials. Today, the fight is over teaching real science versus "creationism" (ie - the bible as the absolute truth, science be damned), over stem cell research, and the right to have autonomy in your own body. Same battle, different lines.

Another example of Janice Brown's tilt towards autocracy (or at least a autocracy of the rich and powerful against the rest of society) comes in an analysis on the Counterpunch website (I don't necessarily agree with people like Alexander Cockburn on many issues, certainly not much on foreign affairs, but when it comes to Janice Brown, he's right on). Read this article to see how she is willing to uphold, through use of some contorted reasoning, the first amendment right of people to demonize and harass co-workers while at work (ie - you have no right not to listen), while at the same time finding that a company has the first amendment right not to listen when they are hit with a mass email from a former digruntled employee. In other words, we'll protect the right of the racists to spew their hate, but not the right of disgruntled employees to make their views against precious corporate America heard.

This shows the contortions that judges like Janice Brown are willing to engage in to uphold any law restricting redress from private citizens while expanding the right of corporations or haters to intimidate and shut up individuals.

You may say, what the hell is PD Dude writing about this for, it's not about being a public defender. But, that's not quite true. I'm fighting for the underdog, but Janice Brown, George Bush, and the corporate elite that they serve, are fighting to keep the underdog even more down. They want to keep us subservient and silent so that we will not stop them from making huge money in an unfettered manner. Want to change the bankruptcy laws? No problem. Want to restrict science so that religion can run this country? No problem. Want to make laws to encourage medical and other health providers to freeze out people from engaging in private, consensual behavior? No problem. This making the world safe for "people of faith" (in what?), has made things more and more intolerable for anyone who disagrees with that faith. That is the ultimate 800 pound gorilla throwing it's weight around among a bunch of underdogs. And it's wrong. Don't allow these judges to take the bench.


PD Dude said...

Here's the whole LA Times article:

By Peter Wallsten, Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — Just days after a bitterly divided Senate committee voted along party lines to approve her nomination as a federal appellate court judge, California Supreme Court Justice Janice Rogers Brown told an audience Sunday that people of faith were embroiled in a "war" against secular humanists who threatened to divorce America from its religious roots, according to a newspaper account of the speech.

Brown's remarks come as a partisan battle over judges has evolved into a national debate over the proper mix of God and government and as Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) ponders changing the chamber's rules to prevent Democrats from using procedural moves to block confirmation of conservative jurists such as Brown.

Her comments to a gathering of Roman Catholic legal professionals in Darien, Conn., came on the same day as "Justice Sunday: Stop the Filibuster Against People of Faith," a program produced by evangelical leaders and simulcast on the Internet and in homes and churches around the country. It was designed to paint opponents of Bush's judicial nominees as intolerant of believers.

Though unrelated to that program, Brown's remarks sounded similar themes.

"There seems to have been no time since the Civil War that this country was so bitterly divided. It's not a shooting war, but it is a war," she said, according to a report published Monday in the Stamford Advocate.

"These are perilous times for people of faith," she said, "not in the sense that we are going to lose our lives, but in the sense that it will cost you something if you are a person of faith who stands up for what you believe in and say those things out loud."

A spokeswoman for the California Supreme Court, Lynn Holton, said no text was available because "it was a talk, not a speech." Brown's office did not dispute the newspaper's account.

The Advocate quoted Brown as lamenting that America had moved away from the religious traditions on which it was founded.

"When we move away from that, we change our whole conception of the most significant idea that America has to offer, which is this idea of human freedom and this notion of liberty," she said.

She added that atheism "handed human destiny over to the great god, autonomy, and this is quite a different idea of freedom…. Freedom then becomes willfulness."

Brown's remarks drew praise Monday from one of the nation's most prominent evangelical leaders, Gary Bauer, president of the socially conservative advocacy group American Values.

"No wonder the radical left opposes her," Bauer wrote in an e-mail to supporters. "Janice Rogers Brown understands the great culture war raging in America. That is why the abortion crowd, the homosexual rights movement and the radical secularists are all demanding that Senate liberals block her confirmation."

Brown was first nominated by President Bush in 2003 to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, an appointment considered a steppingstone to the U.S. Supreme Court. She has emerged as one of the president's most controversial judicial nominees — and one of the conservative movement's favorite examples of Democratic delays.

The nominations of Brown and nine other conservatives have been central to a bitter fight that both sides view as a precursor to an ideological brawl over replacing Supreme Court Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, who has cancer.

Democrats blocked Brown's confirmation by the full Senate, charging that she held extremist views that interfere with her ability to render objective judgments. She has a history of delivering provocative speeches.

Democrats have questioned speeches in which she called the New Deal the "triumph of our socialist revolution." She has described herself as a "true conservative" who believes that "where the government moves in, community retreats, civil society disintegrates…. The result is a debased, debauched culture which finds moral depravity entertaining and virtue contemptible."

Questioned in 2003 about her comments, Brown conceded that she was blunt when addressing conservative audiences.

"I don't have a speechwriter," she said. "I do these myself. And it speaks for itself."

As the article describing Brown's remarks was circulated Monday on websites and in e-mails, one advocacy group opposing Bush's nominees charged that her remarks were a timely reminder of why the California judge should not be promoted.

"It's so shocking that in the middle of this battle she would say such extraordinarily intemperate things," said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

Brown's comments came at a breakfast following the Red Mass, an annual spring gathering of lawyers, judges and other legal professionals sponsored by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport, Conn.

In previous years, speakers at the diocese's breakfast have included former appellate Judge Robert Bork, whose nomination to the Supreme Court was defeated by the Senate in 1987, and Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

Two religious leaders who heard Brown speak Sunday had only praise. The Rev. Michael R. Moynihan, pastor of a church in Greenwich, Conn., and an organizer of the Red Mass, said he was impressed with Brown.

"She caused all of us to reflect more profoundly on the intersection between law and morality, and on the role of religion in shaping those virtues and values, which are crucial to our democratic way of life," said Bishop William E. Lori, the head of the Bridgeport diocese, who invited Brown to address the group.

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