May 14, 2013
Another state, more evidence that “merit” selection fails to remove politics and cronyism from the judicial selection process. Common Cause Rhode Island – a tentacle in the Soros-bankrolled “merit” selection campaign – blasted RI Governor Lincoln Chafee’s nomination of Senate President Joseph Montalbano to the Superior Court, saying the move “raise[s] suspicion that judicial vacancies are being used as part of the end-of-the-session bargaining among legislative leaders and the governor.”
Common Cause RI accused the Judicial Nominating Commission of being filled with “lobbyists and former political party officials.” Really??? Stop the presses! Governors now “regularly take more than 21 days, sometimes years, to pick” judges from the Commission’s list of approved candidates – and even reach back to lists submitted as long as five years ago.
The bottom line, according to Common Cause RI: “merit” selection “clearly has not worked as anticipated because none of the principles are performing their assigned tasks as envisioned by those who had a hand in its design.” Translation: “merit” selection has utterly failed to remove politics from the judicial selection process in Rhode Island.
May 7, 2013
Michael Warren has an important, must-read (subscription may be required) in the Weekly Standard that exposes the hidden agenda behind the “transparency” campaign sweeping corporate America. The effort is being led by a group called the Center for Political Accountability, which bills itself as a nonpartisan organization, but whose true purpose is to “convince (some might say force) [companies] to get out of politics entirely.”
Led by former Democratic Hill staffer Bruce Freed, the group works to intimidate companies into shutting down all political advocacy efforts under the guise of transparency. The not-so-subtle hope is to embarrass companies that support conservative candidates and causes in order to tilt spending toward the left, whose funders, such as public employee unions, are immune to public pressure. In addition to lobbying CEOs and other corporate officer directly, according to Warren:
“In recent years, CPA and its allies have used the proxy process aggressively to hassle corporate boards to adopt more sweeping disclose of their political spending. According to As You Sow, an umbrella group for activist shareholders, at least 125 proposals related to political spending are expected in the 2013 proxy season, a figure that has more than doubled in three years.”
A Manhattan Institute investigation revealed that just 17 percent of shareholders in Fortune 200 companies supported similar transparency proposals in 2012. So Freed and the Center also apply public pressure by ranking companies according to its own transparency index and releasing the results to a compliant media. In addition, the Center is pushing the SEC to adopt a new rule requiring all public companies to disclose their political spending.
If this overall strategy – pushing politics to the left under a good government guise – sounds eerily similar to the “merit” selection campaign, you’re right. If fact, the Center for Political Accountability – like Justice at Stake – is bankrolled by George Soros and aided and abetted by other Soros-funded groups such as MoveOn.org, Common Cause, and Media Matters.
These groups work together seamlessly to bludgeon any company that dares support a conservative candidate. One recent corporate victim, Warren points out, was Target:
“ … when it contributed $150,000 to the political group MN Forward in 2010. MN Forward say it supports ‘pro-business’ candidates and gave money to Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer. Emmer also backed a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. When Target disclosed its contribution to MN Forward, all hell broke loose. MoveOn.org … organized gay-rights protests at Target stores across the country and … delivered to the retailed a petition promising a boycott signed by 24,000 people.”
The campaign worked. Not only did Target halt its contributions to MN Forward, it significantly curtailed all political donations, especially those supporting individual candidates.
The ultimate goal of the Soros-funded transparency charade is clear: Intimidate companies into giving up their right to free speech – and their right to contribute to the candidates of their choice – and tilt the political playing field further to the left.
April 17, 2013
Former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor was named honorary chair of Justice at Stake on Monday, confirming her role as a leader of the George Soros-financed “merit” selection campaign. Up until now, O’Connor preferred to pose as an impartial arbiter in the battle to control how judges are selected for state courts, so at one level the announcement strikes a blow for greater transparency.
In a press release, O’Connor calls “the flood of money coming into courtrooms by increasingly expensive and volatile campaigns” the “greatest threat to judicial independence in our country today.” Of course, she makes no mention of the $45 million-plus that Soros has funneled toward special interest groups dedicated to removing ordinary citizens from the judicial selection process. She also fails to mention her own role in “volatile campaigns” – such as the robo-calls she made to lobby Nevada voters in a failed “merit” selection ballot initiative.
We once applauded her historic appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court. But we just shake our heads at her political motives today that seek to shut regular citizens out of the courthouse that her own historic appointment once opened. Too bad, so sad.
April 11, 2013
The folks at Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts – part of the network of Soros-sponsored groups pushing to end democratic judicial elections – are scandalized. It seems the former chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association, Sayde Ladov, “raised a quarter of a million dollars” in her bid for a seat as a Common Pleas judge, but all that money “couldn’t buy her a decent ballot position” … so she lost. Demoralized by this crushing blow, Ladov will “never run again.” “You could be Louis Brandeis or Thurgood Marshall,” Ladov complained, but “without a good ballot position, you’re not going to win.”
Of course, the real scandal here isn’t that the good people of Philadelphia cut short the prospective judicial career of the next Brandeis or Marshall; it’s the arrogance to think that former chancellors of the Philadelphia Bar Association feel entitled to a seat on the bench in the first place.
April 11, 2013
In a letter to the editor, four former Pennsylvania governors counter a recent Wall Street Journal editorial opposing “merit” selection. In their letter, the governors claim that the special interest group pushing “merit” selection in the state – Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts – “does not receive funding from George Soros.” The facts prove otherwise.
According to an American Justice Partnership study, “Justice Hijacked,” between 2001 and 2008, Soros’s Open Society Institute funneled nearly $600,000 to the group. Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts’ own 2006-2007 annual report – easily available to anyone with Google access – explicitly lists the Open Society Institute as a funder. The governors are certainly entitled to support the end of democratic judicial elections – but Pennsylvania voters deserve to know the truth about who is really funding the “merit” selection movement.
April 5, 2013
Justice at Stake, the Brennan Center, and the rest of the Soros-bankrolled “merit” selection campaign are (predictably) wailing about the $1.1 million spent in this week’s Wisconsin Supreme Court race. Yet the $1.1 mil represents a precipitous drop of about 80% compared to the $5.4 million spent in the 2011 race, which was even less than the $6 million spent in 2008 and $5.8 million spent in 2007 on high court races.
While Justice at Stake has invested heavily to peddle the line that spending on judicial campaigns is some sort of outrage, the citizens of Wisconsin don’t seem to be buying it. In fact, a 2011 poll by Justice at Stake itself revealed that 59% of Wisconsin voters opposed “merit” selection, compared to just 23% who supported it.
Justice isn’t at stake in Wisconsin. It’s working fine. The only thing at stake in Wisconsin is the left’s grip on the judiciary.
November 30, 2012
When it comes to protecting the integrity of Michigan’s judiciary, Justice at Stake and the entire George Soros-bankrolled “merit” selection campaign has become the dog that didn’t bark.
Two of the leading blogs for the campaign – gavelgrab and judgesonmerit – have barely commented on Michigan Justice Diane Hathaway’s real estate scam, which benefitted her to the tune of $600,000. Even Sandra Day O’Connor, who is fawningly portrayed in the media as so bold and courageous when it comes to rooting out the mere appearance of impropriety in our courts, cowers in silence when real impropriety rears its head.
Like the famous dog that didn’t bark in Sherlock Holmes, the silence of the “merit” selection gang is a critical clue that reveals the campaign’s true purpose. The “merit” selection gang oozes with self-righteousness about safeguarding the reputation of our courts. But as the Hathaway case clearly demonstrates, when you strip away the pretense, “merit” selection only goal is to see more liberal, activist judges on the bench.
November 8, 2012
Three Florida Supreme Court justices won their retention elections despite growing concerns over judicial activism. Interestingly enough, the Brennan Center and Justice at Stake took aim at the Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity for spending $155,000 on the race … but fail to mention that the trial bar outspent opponents of the justices by 20:1. It seems pretty clear that JAS, Brennan and the rest of the Soros crowd only object to spending on judicial elections by groups that don’t share their far-left ideology.
November 7, 2012
Florida trial lawyers are “outspending the opposition 20-1” in the fight to save three state Supreme Court justices facing retention elections tomorrow. Yet as Walter Olson points out, despite the $$ pouring in from the trial bar, the left-wing Justice at Stake condemns the Republican Party and Americans for Prosperity as threats to judicial independence. Do we need any further proof that the George Soros-financed “merit” selection campaign exists solely to do the trial bar’s bidding and push our courts further to the left?
October 10, 2012
A prime example of what I’ve called the Big Lie about retention elections – namely the notion that the only legitimate reason for voters to pull the “no” lever on a judge is gross incompetence or corruption – is on display by the Soros-financed blog of Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts. The piece concedes that judges must be “accountable to voters and continue to serve at the will of the people.” But, “threatening non-retention demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of the role of the judiciary, undermines the court’s ability to do its job, and does more harm than good.”
“This is not to say,” we’re assured,
“that the people are not free to express their dissatisfaction with the judiciary or individual decisions made by specific judges. However, the appellate process is the correct mechanism to address issues with individual decisions, not campaigning (or threatening to campaign” against retention.”
The problem here, of course, is that the appellate process is open only to the litigants in a specific case. It provides absolutely no recourse to average voters whose lives are impacted by the rulings of activist judges who routinely exceed their authority by legislating from the bench.
Everyone agrees, as this post suggests, that the role of a judge is to “act as a fair and impartial adjudicator,” not to “make decisions on individual cases based on political expediency.” The question is, who gets to decide if they are fulfilling this role properly? In a democracy, that “who” is the people – and they should be free to pass judgment on the judges who serve them without being bullied by elites who would prefer the people to just shut up and vote “yes” on all judges in all retention elections.