Thomas Sowell

In addition to the havoc wrought by the judiciary in our times, there is the havoc wrought on the judiciary itself by others.

 Some have blamed the murders of a judge not long ago, and the murder of another judge's family, on critics of judicial activism. But, in each of these cases, the motive seems plainly to have been personal animosity growing out of a judge's ruling against the particular individuals concerned.

 It is doubtful if these murderers had ever read a law journal article or a Federalist Society paper on judicial activism. It is one of many signs of the shameless dishonesty in discussions of courts that anyone would try to silence criticisms of activist judges with unsubstantiated claims that such criticisms have resulted in violence.

 What makes such claims even more shameless is that many of the same people who decry criticism of judges' official acts do not hesitate to engage in personal smears and outright lies against judicial nominees who do not meet the liberal test of political correctness.

 The harm that this does is not confined to the particular nominees who are demonized and insulted on nationwide television during confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Nor is this a necessary part of the "advise and consent" duty of the Senate because any Senator can vote against any nominee for any reason without taking personal cheap shots.

 Can anyone doubt that these smear campaigns make judicial appointments less attractive to some -- perhaps many -- highly qualified people, who tend to have alternative careers available to them, almost invariably at far higher pay?

 It is one thing to be willing to sacrifice income in order to serve your country, it is something else to have a lifetime reputation for integrity, honesty, and dignity destroyed by noisy and shameless politicians playing to the gallery of special interests.

 "All questions are legitimate," declared Senator Charles Schumer, one of the most shameless of them all. "What is your view on Roe v. Wade? What is your view on gay marriage? They are going to try to get away with the idea that we're not going to know their views. But that's not going to work this time."

 "You cannot ask a judge to prejudge a specific matter," was the very different view of Senator Jeff Sessions, a former judge himself.

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

Creators Syndicate