Can I Get Some Justice?
I hear this in my head to the tune of ‘Can I Get a Witness? Have courts always been partisan and I just fell for the hype that courts were above parties and politics? OK, I was naïve. But have courts become even more partisan than ever. Is there less middle ground. Is there nothing between a liberal view and a conservative view? If all ideologies are polar opposites how can courts avoid being partisan? You either respect women’s right to make decisions about their own bodies, or you consider abortion murder. You either agree that executive power has few limits or you agree that there are limits and checks and balances on the executive. Do Presidents and Vice Presidents have to show their taxes or not? Can social media muffle a President when remarks seem unpresidential or inappropriate? How many times can a decision made by one judge be overturned on appeal in another court? Can you just pick and choose a court that has a judge with an ideology that matches yours? Were these ever things we questioned before? Did we have these questions but the divide between courts is wider now?
Apparently, if you don’t like the decision of one court you can just appeal in another court that is the province of a more sympathetic judge. Look at how long Trump has been able to drag out the question of whether he needs to show us his taxes or not. What happened recently in the Flynn case where Judge Sullivan was overruled by Barr is another long story. The contretemps over the Southern District of New York with the turf war between Berman and Barr shows more of the battle of the judges.
George Bush (Rep.) appointed 2 Justices to the Supreme Court, 62 judges to the Court of Appeals (conservatives), 261 judges to the District Courts (conservatives).
Obama (Dem.) in eight years appointed 2 Supreme Court Justices, 55 judges to the Court of Appeals (liberals) and 268 judges to the District Courts (liberals). He was blocked by Mitch McConnell from even nominating a third Justice to the Supreme Court although there was an opening.
The Trump administration in four years has appointed 2 Justices to the Supreme Court (conservatives), 53 judges to the Court of Appeals (conservatives) and 143 to the District Courts (conservatives). 44 nominations await Senate action and there are only 71 vacancies remaining on the US District Court benches.
This gives us federal courts where conservatives have the edge they have been striving for:
Court of Appeals – 115 Republican appointments. 55 Democratic appointment
US District Courts – 404 Republican appointments. 268 Democratic appointments
It is unclear if Bush or Obama made appointments by party, but we know that Trump has only nominated judges from a list drawn up by the Federalist Society, so we know that these appointments were made along the Republican party line.
Of course, only rich people usually get to play this ‘game of courts’ because appealing over and over is very expensive and many Americans cannot even make bail in one city or county court. But if you are wealthy you can apparently shop for the justice you want and even if you can’t pick your judge you might be able to pick the district in which you file and in which the case will be brought. If at first you don’t succeed keep trying. And if you are this President you have an entire Justice Department at your disposal to make your legal outcomes so. Bill Barr was exactly the AG Trump dreamed about. There has been quite enough dream fulfillment for this one man who always wants more. Will we ever trust our courts to be nonpartisan? Time to reform the justice system in America and not just because it is racist, it is also elitist and not the least bit blind.