Burt Prelutsky

Whenever I hear my fellow conservatives talk about sitting out the election in November, I want to grab them and shake them until their teeth rattle. Anything that puts Democrats even an inch closer to appointing federal judges should be more than enough reason to get every right-winger off the couch and down to his polling place.

In case you think I’m engaging in election year hyperbole, consider Judge Stephen Roy Reinhardt. He has been the mainstay of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit for the past quarter of a century, ever since Jimmy Carter foisted him off on us.

What sort of disaster has Judge Reinhardt been? For openers, it was his court that first got our attention when it decided that “under God” had no place in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Not a court to rest on its laurels, the 9th Circuit recently garnered media attention with its rulings in a couple of murder cases. In the first, Reinhardt and his colleagues decided that a convicted killer was entitled to a new trial because the relatives of his victim had worn small buttons with their loved one’s picture to court. The 9th Circuit decided this had undue influence on the jurors, although the trial judge had ruled otherwise, and the relatives, in any case, had only worn the buttons for the first two days of the trial.

In the other case, the defendant had murdered a young woman by bashing in her head with a dumbbell. No, an actual dumbbell; not Judge Reinhardt. In this instance, a three judge panel decided 2-1, Reinhardt providing the swing vote, that when the jurors back in 1982 sentenced the killer to die, they might not have taken into account “the defendant’s potential for a positive adjustment to life in prison”!

Scary, isn’t it?

But I’m only getting started. Judge Reinhardt is also the fellow who said, “I don’t believe the Constitution says that individuals have a right to bear arms.” Judge Reinhardt, let me introduce you to the Second Amendment.

There’s more. When someone suggested that the 9th Circuit was the most liberal court in the country, he replied with a straight face: “When people say that, what they mean is that this court, unlike most of the circuit courts, isn’t totally dominated by a group of conservative judges who have a view of the Constitution that is, to put it mildly, rather narrow and tends to resemble the view of the federal courts before the age of enlightenment.” I guess he means way back in the old days when the Second Amendment was still part of the Constitution.