Opinion

Ideology of Supreme Courts

On Oct. 16, the CDT ran an op-ed piece by Phil Edmunds, of Boalsburg. The headline: “Democrat-appointed judges bring bias to judicial system.”

Focusing on the conceal carry gun debates and also mentioning voter ID laws, Edmunds wrote that judges appointed by Democrats are more likely than judges appointed by Republicans to base their votes on ideology rather than common sense and objective interpretation of law.

He was apparently unaware that since the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in February 2016, the Republican Senate leadership had refused even to hold a hearing on President Barack Obama’s replacement nomination of a respected centrist appellate judge, and were finally rewarded with a conservative nominated by President Donald Trump.

Now, in another op-ed piece on June 3 focused on Trump’s proposed Muslim travel restrictions, Edmunds laments Obama’s judicial appointments, which he believes has caused an imbalance in the federal judiciary, adding “... with few exceptions, judges appointed by Democrats decide cases in a way that’s consistent with the political agenda of their presidential benefactors.”

Although I enjoyed a constitutional law course in college, I’m not a historian, but I’ve had it with reading “The History of the Federal Judiciary According to Phil Edmunds.”

There is no doubt judges have political views. From the Civil War to 1933, most presidents were Republicans, as were their judicial appointees. Most valued property rights over human rights. In 1933, only 28 percent of federal judges were Democrats. That changed when Franklin Roosevelt gradually began the liberalization of, most importantly, the Supreme Court. That preserved the Social Security Act and other social and civil rights gains through the Lyndon Johnson administration.

Since then, conservative Supreme Courts under Chief Justices Burger, Rehnquist and Roberts have successfully chipped away at many of those liberal achievements, best symbolized by the Roberts court crippling of the historic Voting Rights Act.

Ideology? You bet.

John N. Rippey lives in Zion.

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