Obama’s most outrageous nominees.
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But it’s those five percent of the cases that really count. And in those five percent of the cases, what you’ve got to look at is — what is in the justice’s heart. What’s their broader vision of what America should be. Justice Roberts said he saw himself just as an umpire but the issues that come before the Court are not sport, they’re life and death. And we need somebody who’s got the heart — the empathy — to recognize what it’s like to be a young teenage mom. The empathy to understand what it’s like to be poor or African-American or gay or disabled or old — and that’s the criteria by which I’ll be selecting my judges. Alright?
No, not “alright,” unless you have an overwhelming majority in the Senate, though even then, some of Obama’s nominees have been too radical to get through the Democrats.
The president nominated Louis Butler to be a U.S. judge for the Western District of Wisconsin last September 30, and then re-nominated him in January after his nomination was sent back by the Senate. Butler was the first Wisconsin supreme court judge voted off the bench in 40 years. Yet the president thought it a good idea to send him back to Wisconsin as a federal judge. Among his judicial highlights are ending the state’s tort limits in Ferdon v. Wisconsin and establishing a “collective liability” in Thomas v. Mallett, where he found that painting companies that did not use lead paint would be liable for those companies that did. John Fund reported in the Wall Street Journal that Butler has also come to be known as “Loophole Louie” for his soft record on crime, including frequent overturning of convictions and expansive interpretation of the Wisconsin constitution with respect to the rights of criminal defendants.
U.S. district judge Robert Chatigny also embodies the empathy standard. Obama has nominated him to serve on the 2nd District Circuit Court of Appeals. In 2005, Chatigny presided over the case of Michael Ross, the “Roadside Strangler” convicted of kidnapping, raping, and murdering four women by a Connecticut jury. Chatigny asserted he believed Ross suffered from a “disease” of “sexual sadism.” He went on to say, “I suggest to you that Michael Ross may be the least culpable, the least, of the people on death row.”
Chatigny’s empathy toward sex offenders preceded Ross. In 2001 he struck down Connecticut’s sex offender registry law. The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously reversed that ruling.
Elsewhere on the licentiousness front, Obama has nominated Edward Chen to serve on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. A former staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, Chen signed an ACLU brief that opposed efforts by parents to restrict children from viewing Internet pornography at libraries. Eagle Forum has reported that while serving as a U.S. magistrate judge, Chen took a partisan shot at Sarah Palin, saying that he had “enough executive experience to run for vice president. Kind of like being the president of the Wasilla PTA, except I have real responsibilities.” The Washington Times reported that Chen even stopped a sheriff deputy’s request to have a man who bit him tested for AIDS. How dare anyone disrespect a vampire’s right to privacy?
Another ACLU friend of Obama is recently confirmed David Hamilton. As a trial judge, Hamilton ruled against abortion waiting periods and regulations for sex offenders and struck down a 188-year tradition of sectarian prayer at the Indiana State House. His abortion waiting period ruling was later overturned by the Seventh District Court — the court he now sits on.
UC Berkeley professor and former ACLU board member Goodwin Liu, an Obama nominee to the Ninth Circuit, has the most liberal record of them all. In a podcast for the American Constitution Society, Liu says “the Constitution should be interpreted in ways that adapt its principles and its text to the challenges and conditions of our society in every succeeding generation.” He’s written that welfare rights, such as medical care, housing, food, could be interpreted as constitutional rights over time. As he put it in a 2008 law review article aptly titled “Rethinking Constitutional Welfare Rights,” ”I argue that judicial recognition of welfare rights is best conceived as an act of interpreting the shared understandings of particular welfare goods as they are manifested in our institutions, laws, and evolving social practices.”
During the confirmation of Justice Alito, Liu testified against him saying that his views were, “at the margin, not the mainstream,” and that Alito’s America “is not the America we know. Nor is it the America we aspire to be.” Instead, Goodwin Liu’s mainstream America is a welfare state of positive rights. Incidentally, Goodwin Liu does not meet the American Bar Association standards for becoming a federal judge, due to his having been a member of a state bar for less than 12 years and his lack of experience as a trial lawyer.
Liu co-wrote his coming book, Keeping Faith with the Constitution, with Christopher Schroeder, recently confirmed Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Policy. He will likely be involved in judicial selection. If he is like Goodwin Liu, round the count to a baker’s dozen and expect many more appointments with the heart and the empathy that Obama likes to put on the bench.
We’ve listed 12 names, in part because of the snappy alliteration, but we could just as easily have listed “the dirty thirty.” Despite the many leftists serving in the administration, those in the top senior positions come across as relatively distinguished and centrist. The president benefited from picking Secretary Gates, Jim Jones, and Larry Summers. Regarding the Supreme Court, when Justice Sotomayor was scrutinized, she abandoned the empathy standard. This pattern of appointing radical nominees to less well-known positions while appointing moderates and less ideologically driven officials to more prominent positions indicates that the public may want to keep closer tabs on the whole package.
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