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Tilting at Windmills

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December 15, 2010

HENRY HUDSON'S YEARS OF 'ACTIVE SERVICE TO THE REPUBLICAN PARTY'.... Federal District Judge Henry Hudson caused quite a stir this week with his odd ruling on the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate. Matt Finkelstein reports today on Hudson's explanation of how he earned a lifetime appointment to the federal bench in the first pace.

After Congress created a new judgeship for the Richmond Division in the Eastern District of Virginia in 2001, Hudson expressed his interest and picked up the support of the state's two Republican senators.

Hudson's description of the selection process candidly acknowledges its political nature. "Campaigning for a federal judgeship is almost as challenging as running for political office," he writes. "Rather than court voters, aspirants solicit endorsements from influential political activists with close ties to the senators, particularly the activists who raise the big money.

"That is where 20 years of active service to the Republican party, and helping in the various campaigns of each senator, paid dividends and gave me the edge," he said.

I realize it can get tiresome to see folks like me say "imagine if a Democrat had done this," but once in a while, I think these comparisons have real merit.

Consider a hypothetical. Imagine if an important court case came before a federal judge nominated by President Obama and confirmed by a Democratic-led Senate. Then imagine we learned that this same judge owns part of a political operation that attacks the same law about which he/she was hearing arguments.

Making matters worse, that Democratic judge admits to having campaigned for the seat on the bench, earning it through 20 years of active service to the Democratic Party, helping the various campaigns of Democratic candidates.

And then to top it off, imagine if that judge's ruling, an obvious example of judicial activism, was premised on a bizarre legal analysis that no one of any ideology was prepared to defend.

Is there any doubt at all that, if this scenario actually happened, the right would be apoplectic? That the judge's name would be on every Fox News broadcast as an example of courts run amok? That we'd hear some congressional Republicans raising the specter of impeachment against that judge?

Steve Benen 11:20 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (28)

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Modern Day Republicans and self-declared Conservatives have no sense of shame.

This is yet another example.

Posted by: gus on December 15, 2010 at 11:30 AM | PERMALINK

Yes Mr. Benen, I am tired of you and others on the left who raise this specter as a hypothetical regarding a Democrat as if Democrats are merely victims in our national discourse!

Stop complaining of the unfair treatment, and begin demanding an in your face wrongness to the country club Republicans who seem to get your goat every time they load for bear and shoot at liberals!

Shit, get off your collective leftist blogoshpere asses and demand these ne'erdowells answer for the political corruption they seem to revel in!

Stir the national discourse relentlessly! Aim it at the MSM for being complicit! Ask the ugly questions of these politicos like Jan Brewer: You know, like if she wants to be remembered for ushering in Arizona Death Panels!

As the dear Judge if he believes in the dignity of humans, both body and soul, like his Christian practice dictates, and then call his actions out for the folly they are!

Come on, quit complaining! Do you think anyone will accommodate your complaint?

Don't hold your breath Mr. Benen! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on December 15, 2010 at 11:32 AM | PERMALINK

Is Benen really saying that he wants judges who have lived like hermits and recluses, never taking part in society and its issues?

Posted by: Al on December 15, 2010 at 11:34 AM | PERMALINK

You should stop complaining about how the right wingers actually care about policy enough to get off their duffs and yell, scream, email, phone, demonstrate etc.

Maybe if you and your fellow Dem party "intellectuals" weren't busy spending so much time patting each other on the back telling yourselves how much smarter you are than republicans...maybe, just maybe, then one of you would have the time to take their concerns to the people and make your case for liberal policy.

As it is, you spend more time electronically suckking up to the administration on foolhardy policy like tax cuts to the rich in conjunction to tax hikes to the poor.

Most regular people see right through you folks in the Dem party. They *know* you're going to sell them out. It's just the Repubs are ever so slight worse, so you still get their votes. Trust me, the Dem "base" of blacks and union members know when someone is conning them.

You and Obama are working hard to erase even that distinction, so hopefully by next general election all your friends will get booted out of office as the rank and file notice this more and more.

Posted by: Observer on December 15, 2010 at 11:38 AM | PERMALINK

I don't know if that's really Al or just a parody, but the idea that judges can divorce themselves from social reality has always been a little creepy. Of course, it's right-wing "originalists" who seem most eager to push this viewpoint. When the Citizens United decison came out, they plugged their ears and started yammering nonsense syllables. So, the net result is that conservatives get to practice judicial activism the same way they practice politics - with infinitely elastic rules for themselves, and none whatsoever for the other side.

Posted by: walt on December 15, 2010 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

@kevo
I agree. When will progressives get in the faces of the corrupt lying faces of politicians and media demanding honest responses? I too am tired of the "if a democrat..." let's hear the responses. Will Harry Reid hold the senate in session until their done?

Posted by: st john on December 15, 2010 at 11:44 AM | PERMALINK

I believe that Steve Benen is making a back-handed reference to the FACTS that:

- "It's OK if a republican does it"

- The rethugs would have the stones to do something about it if the situation were reversed

- Democrats are a bunch of gondad-free and spineless wimps who will do or say nothing!

- The rethugs have an open political operation known as Fox Noise

- The remainder of the corporately owned media is subservient to the repuke party while pretending to be 'objective'

As such, it is entirely accurate and appropriate observation by a brilliant observer of our political world. As always, Mr. Benen's astute observations are welcome.

Posted by: SadOldVet on December 15, 2010 at 11:45 AM | PERMALINK

Their work is done

Posted by: st John on December 15, 2010 at 11:47 AM | PERMALINK

Q: Why should Americans ALWAYS elect a democrat as president and never a republican?

A: When a repuke is elected president, we know that American workers are going to get screwed. When a dumbocrat is elected president, we can pretend to be surprised when the American workers get screwed.

Posted by: AmusedOldVet on December 15, 2010 at 11:48 AM | PERMALINK

Never mind that the right wing would have been apoplectic, the press would have gone insane as well.

But when it's a republican, well.... [crickets]

Posted by: fourlegsgood on December 15, 2010 at 11:53 AM | PERMALINK

If a Democratic judge had done that, Glenn Beck would have sauteed him slowly over a bunson burner, served him/her on his chalkboard held in a horizontal position, and had members of his staff feast on the flesh on FOX News.

kevo & st. john, I agree with what you're saying. But, the MSM does not even consider their coverage at all biased. They've not only bought the meme's. They've swallowed them whole.
Chris Jansen of MSNBC was astounded when, I think it was, Howard Dean confronted her when she said that Democrats create deficits and RepubliConfederates (she didn't use that term, I now do) lower them. He explained it was the other way around. The look on her face was one of extreme comfusion and scepticism. 'It couldn't be true! It's not the common meme spread 'round the herd.'

Posted by: c u n d gulag on December 15, 2010 at 11:54 AM | PERMALINK

I don't like the "imagine if a Democrat had done this" posts. They miss the point. Republicans have much more influence over media talking points and messaging, so Democrats will always suffer from harsher criticism.

The point this argument tries to make indirectly is really that this judge did something unjust, period. It doesn't matter which party he supported - what he did was a BAD THING. You should get over the party affiliations and just condemn him for doing a bad thing, which you fail to do in the post above.

Posted by: Taylor Wray on December 15, 2010 at 11:54 AM | PERMALINK

Their work is done

Posted by: st John on December 15, 2010 at 11:57 AM | PERMALINK

If memory serves, just a few days ago the senate IMPEACHED a federal judge. Instead of whining about Hudson's egregious behavior, write a post comparing the two black robed individuals!

Posted by: DAY on December 15, 2010 at 11:59 AM | PERMALINK

Except for the "preaching to the choir" news outlets like those found on MSNBC the MSM is owned and operated by the far right. A vast majority of the population doesn't care about that right-winged judge because they aren't being told to be worried about that right-winged judge. It's the way it's been playing out since the Murdoch's of the world figured out they could control the electorate by buying up the airtime. Plain and simple. Nauseating...

Posted by: stevio on December 15, 2010 at 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

Interesting Posts ...If we only had our own TEEVEE network...
Seriously just tell the Republicans they don't have to bother voting ...even when they lose they win

Posted by: John R on December 15, 2010 at 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

Okay, I admit I am confused by the "stop talking about it and do something, and by DO SOMETHING, I mean say the same thing using different words, dammit!" rhetoric today.

Benen blogs. That's what he does. That's his niche. A lot of his posts are directed to the very MSM asshats who are responsible for this drivel. He does it in a way he thinks is better calculated to penetrate the bubble of smug self-satisfaction and disdain for those who criticize them with which MSM asshats surroud themselves than simply screaming "YOU'RE AN IDIOTIC ASSHAT! STOP SUCKING UP TO THE REPUBLICANS!" at them.

If he's not using the words that you prefer, there are plenty who do. Mostly they're dismissed out of hand by the people whose behavior needs changing because they're "shrill, unreasoning partisans." But, still, if that's you cup of tea, their teahouse is open for business.

As to the inevitable "this is all Obama's fault" posts, yeah, knew it had to be somehow.

Posted by: Another Steve on December 15, 2010 at 12:06 PM | PERMALINK

@Another Steve:

Benen does what he does. The elected Dems do what they do.

Unfortunately, Benen wants to advocate for raising taxes on poor people in a recession.

And even more unfortunately, elected Dems have no idea how to do their job in the court of public opinion and so they suck at their jobs, the "MSM" ignores them and they never make their liberal case to the voters.

Steve could note this and tell the elected Dems they suck on this blog and that they should get better. But that's not what he does.

Instead he has penis envy about the Repubs who a) know what they're doing and b) their "base" is active, loud and influention beyond their numbers.

Complaining about how well the Repubs do their thing does not impact how crappy the Dems do theirs.

Posted by: Observer on December 15, 2010 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK

Observer, where did you pull this one out of?

"Unfortunately, Benen wants to advocate for raising taxes on poor people in a recession"

Posted by: bk on December 15, 2010 at 12:20 PM | PERMALINK

re Another Steve...

I have read and reread the comments and do not see the "this is all Obama's fault" ones. Please point out which you are talking about!

"Benen blogs. That's what he does. That's his niche. A lot of his posts are directed to the very MSM asshats who are responsible for this drivel. He does it in a way he thinks is better calculated to penetrate the bubble of smug self-satisfaction and disdain for those who criticize them with which MSM asshats surroud themselves..."

I agree with you to a point, at least until you get into the mindreading of what Benen thinks! Are you a Washington Post 'Opinion' writer, like George Will, who can read the minds of others?

Posted by: OldVet on December 15, 2010 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

The current tax deal is a tax cut for the rich but a tax hike for people making less than 40K.

Here's just one link Huffington Post for that.

So yes, by advocating for this deal Benen is advocating for raising taxes on the poor in a recession.

Posted by: Observer on December 15, 2010 at 12:23 PM | PERMALINK

Is there any doubt at all that, if this scenario actually happened, the right would be apoplectic? That the judge's name would be on every Fox News broadcast as an example of courts run amok? That we'd hear some congressional Republicans raising the specter of impeachment against that judge?

No doubt at all.

Where there is doubt, however, is in whether this is what you think Democrats should do now. Republicans would make the political background of a sitting judge the issue instead of the substance of his written decision. Is that what you'd like to see from Democrats as well?

If we bide our time, the decision will, in due course, be reviewed and very likely overturned by a higher court--a favorable result with almost no effort.

Posted by: Quaker in a Basement on December 15, 2010 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

re bk...

Several analyses of the Obama-Repuke tax plan show that, for as many as (the bottom) 30% of income earners in our country federal taxes WILL INCREASE. Steve Benen, while not 'directly' advocating for raising taxes on the poor, does so effectively when advocating the passage of this abomination of a tax plan.

I ask again, when Obama has 'polling' support of more than 70% of the American public and more than 50% of self identified republicans on an issue, if not now; when will Obama stand up to the rethugs and the big money interests?

When Obama agrees to a two year extension of all of the negative aspects of this tax plan and ONLY a one year extension of what little there is that is good about the plan; why should we believe that he will not be held hostage again at the end of next year and compromise more gains for the wealthy? What will Obama give away next year for another 1 year extension of unemployment benefits? Will he agree to further 'payroll tax' holidays to further the conversion of social security from being an 'earned' insurance program to being an 'entitlement' program that rethugs can more easily destroy?

Posted by: SadOldVet on December 15, 2010 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

I miss Kevin Drum.

[No need to miss Kevin. Simply click this link and you will be magically transported to his "new" blogging home at Mother Jones. --Moderating Staff]

Posted by: Xanthippas on December 15, 2010 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

Plenty of other Federal court appointments have gone to individuals based at least in part on their political connections and history of service to the party, and I'm sure that some of them "campaigned" for the job. Hudson may be unique only in that he has been frank in admitting it. The real question with respect to him is whether he is viewed by the attorneys who have appeared before him as a competent and fair judge or not. Anyone out there know?

What I find astonishing about this whole incident is that he didn't recuse himself from this case. He owns a very substantial interest in a political consulting company, and the Virginia Attorney General is a client of that firm. The VA. AG is the plaintiff in this lawsuit, and his role as plaintiff is not just a technicality; he spearheaded the attack on the Health Care Reform Act and is obviously personally vested in the litigation. Under these circumstances, Hudson should have recused himself. This has, at the very least, the appearance of impropriety.

Posted by: DRF on December 15, 2010 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

With the left, everything is personal. The ruling was "odd" and the constitutional issue was "bizarre." So, I assume you believe that there are no limits to Congress' powers under the Commerce clause.

Here's another opinion. You might even read it.

Posted by: Mike K on December 15, 2010 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

This starts at the top. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court John Roberts and his henchmen have set a partisan tone on the court unheard of since the 1930s. Under Roberts the basic rules of judicial ethics pertaining to "appearances of impropriety" have lost all meaning.

Posted by: Ron Byers on December 15, 2010 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

The conservatives has been working over the past 30 years to put not just conservative leaning judges, but conservative ideologues and zealots, on the federal courts. Our politics have become so partisan that one half of the political branches doesn't trust the other. If the people lose faith in the courts, (and rulings like this and Bush v. Gore push them toward such mistrust) our country is doomed.

Posted by: appmanga on December 15, 2010 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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