Sunday, December 19, 2004

Alternatives to Judicial Activism

The Bush Administration has been complaining about "activist judges" for a long time, but mostly these complaints have gone unheeded.  That is because they did not have a good alternative to offer. Now, they do. According to The Washington Post, judges now are permitted greater latitude in accepting lavish junkets paid for by large corporations. After all, we can't have judges making important decisions based upon their personal beliefs.  No, instead we will have them making important decisions based upon the beliefs of corporate donors. Now that's progress!
New Rules For Judges Are Weaker, Critics Say
Guidelines Address Sponsored Trips

By Carol D. Leonnig
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, December 17, 2004; Page A31

A judicial conduct committee has rewritten the ethics guidelines for federal judges in a way that legal experts and critics said allow judges to take more corporate-funded trips and avoid disclosing their attendance.

The committee said it revised the rules in response to public and congressional criticism of judges taking all-expenses-paid trips to "judicial education" seminars. These events were often held in luxury hunting lodges and in Arizona golfing resorts, and paid for at least in part by petroleum, chemical and manufacturing companies whose interests often come before federal courts, records show.

But critics said the new rules actually weaken the attendance and disclosure guidelines.

"This effectively clears the path for federal judges to take lavish, corporate-funded trips," Douglas T. Kendall, executive director of Community Rights Counsel, a group that has opposed the free trips, wrote in a letter yesterday to U.S. District Judge William L. Osteen, chairman of the judicial committee. [...]
The real beauty of this is that the new regulations were written in response to complaints about the possibility that such trips could influence judges. So they write new rules, which actually make the situation worse!  All in the name of judicial education!  No Judge Left Behind!