One of the greatest risks of the current lame-duck Congress is the possibility of Senate confirmation of President Obama's radical appointments to federal courts, boards and agencies. Nominees hoping for confirmation include the radical redistributionist Goodwin Liu, who is seeking a spot on the Ninth Circuit, Louis Butler Jr., who was removed from the Wisconsin Supreme Court by the voters in 2008, and Chai Feldblum, an advocate of same-sex marriage and polygamy who is now enjoying a recess appointment to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Appointees to federal circuit and district courts can be almost as important as Supreme Court justices because the Supreme Court takes only about 1 percent of the cases that seek to reach the high court. Lower federal court judges have been making final rulings on dozens of controversial issues that should be legislative decisions, including marriage, parents' rights in public schools and immigration.
Some have lamented that Jimmy Carter, who served only one term as president, didn't get a chance to make any Supreme Court appointments. But don't cry for Carter -- he had plenty of influence on the judiciary.
As Ronald Reagan was building his successful campaign for president, Carter was stacking the federal courts with 259 activist federal judges, more than any other one-term president in history. Thirty years later, many of those judges are still rendering liberal activist decisions. Among the left-wingers Carter appointed to the judiciary were Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer. Both were later elevated to the Supreme Court by Bill Clinton.
After creating an unprecedented 10 new judgeships on the Ninth Circuit, Carter managed to appoint 15 liberal judges to that circuit. Many of those judges are still rendering liberal decisions, including the now 79-year-old Stephen Reinhardt.
He ruled against the Pledge of Allegiance, against Second Amendment gun rights (based on the bogus research of Michael Bellesiles) and against parents' rights in public schools (saying the right of parents "does not extend beyond the threshold of the school door"). His 1996 decision purporting to find a constitutional right to physician-assisted suicide was rejected by all nine Supreme Court justices, and his 2006 decision finding a constitutional right to partial-birth abortion was also overturned by the Supreme Court.
According to legal analyst Ed Whelan, "Reinhardt is probably the most overturned judge in history," including 11 reversals in one year alone, five of them unanimously. Reinhardt responded, "They can't catch them all."
Phyllis Schlafly is a national leader of the pro-family movement, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Feminist Fantasies.
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