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Jewish World Review June 9, 1999 /25 Sivan 5759

Don Feder

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Call a moratorium on Clinton judges

(JWR) ---- (
HERE'S A DELICIOUS IRONY: Bill Clinton, who 6 months ago was impeached for lying under oath and obstruction of justice, could end up appointing more judges than any of his predecessors.

To date, Clinton has put 306 of his soul mates on the bench, close to Reagan's record of 385. By the end of his second term, the perjurer in chief could have appointed 40 percent of the entire federal judiciary.

But in the twilight of his tenure, the confirmation process has slowed. The usually compliant Orrin Hatch, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, hasn't held a confirmation hearing this year -- which has set the establishment to whining about the unfairness of it all.

Clinton's judicial picks get high marks for diversity, we're told. His choices for the Supreme Court are praised as middle-of-the-roaders. This president's judicial nominations are diverse where it matters least -- gender and skin color. Intellectually, they reflect the variety of Stalinsts at a party congress.

Take Claudia Wilken, one of Clinton's first appointments, who was placed on the U.S. District Court for Northern California in 1993. In 1997, Wilken invalidated California's popularly enacted term-limitation amendment. Casting about for a rationale, Wilken determined term limits violate the 14th Amendment because voters who prefer politicians who've been in office for eternity can't vote for their hacks of choice.

How her opinion could be reconciled with the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution, limiting presidents to two terms in office, Wilken didn't say. The Supreme Court overturned the decision.

Fast forward to 1998, when Wilken held that San Francisco was perfectly within its rights in forcing companies that do business with the city to provide health insurance for domestic partners.

The ordinance is constitutional because it "effectuates a legitimate local public interest to combat discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation," Wilken insisted in an opinion that read like a manifesto.

Another of Clinton's Oliver Wendells, William Fletcher, went on the federal appeals court despite a total lack of courtroom experience. Who needs experience when they have theories? A former law professor, Fletcher believes judges may declare legislatures "chronically in default" and assume their functions. He says out loud what most Clinton appointees believe in their hearts.

Other Clinton judges have: enjoined the enforcement of a state ban on partial-birth abortions, rejected a student-initiated graduation prayer, forced an Ohio municipality to remove a cross from its city seal and voted to overturn a federal law restricting the broadcast of obscene material to the hours of 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.

But doubtless, Clinton's crowning achievement was the nomination of Frederica Massiah-Jackson to the district court. A state judge from Philadelphia, Massiah-Jackson was forced to withdraw when Republican senators (in a rare show of determination) said, "No way in hell!"

Massiah-Jackson's record was described by Philadelphia's Democratic district attorney as "replete with instances of leniency toward criminals, an adversarial attitude toward police and a hostile attitude toward prosecutors."

Her acquittal rate was 60 percent higher than the average for Philadelphia judges. She once swore at a prosecutor in her courtroom and on another occasion declared that both capital punishment and three-strikes laws are racist and unconstitutional.

Given her brilliance, it's a wonder that the president didn't nominate Massiah-Jackson for the Supreme Court. Instead, he chose those notorious moderates Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Stephen Breyer, who have consistently taken an activist approach on everything from religion in the public sphere and term limitation to racial preferences.

Republicans, who pay lip service to judicial restraint, have been far too obliging to this president. As Tom Jipping of the Free Congress Foundation notes, when Democrats controlled the Senate and Republicans the White House from 1987 to 1992, Congress denied hearings to an average of 7.3 GOP judicial nominees a year. When the roles were reversed (1995 to 1998), on average Republicans blocked hearings for only 4.3 nominees each year.

Given this president's demonstrated contempt for our system of justice, it would be fitting to call a moratorium on any further Clinton judicial appointments. It would also be a blow for representative government.


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12/14/98: Why we lost interest in the homeless
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12/02/98: Pilgrims Pilloried in streets of Plymouth
11/30/98: Caribbean dogpatch not a good candidate for statehood
11/25/98: Will Vermont force gay marriage on the nation?
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10/21/98: On '98 election, keep a critical eye on polls
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10/09/98: Majoring in 'weirdness'
10/07/98: Friends of Billy Clinton
9/29/98: Letter from ex-soldier highlights defense peril
9/28/98: Answering arguments against impeachment
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9/11/98: Resolution of Clinton crisis will define national character
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8/24/98: Why liberals condone Clinton's lies
8/20/98: Time to move on -- to impeachment
8/12/98: With Bubba in the sexual privacy zone
8/10/98: The truth won't set Clinton free
8/06/98: Truth about Hiroshima is incontrovertible
8/04/98: Clinton not the first hollow president
7/30/98: "Small Soldiers" -- a fractured Vietnam allegory
7/27/98: Crime wave hits hometown
7/22/98: Love in an Internet fishbowl
7/20/98: Ads bring ex-gay movement out of closet
7/15/98: Brian and Amy -- the children of Roe
7/13/98: Why are we scared of obnoxious 'activists?'
7/6/98: Fonda still resists reality
7/1/98: New York blesses domestic partnerships
6/29/98: Teddy and Calvin stood for virtue
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6/22/98: Big tobacco? What about big casinos?
6/15/98: Religion -- God for what ails you
6/10/98: Planning Clinton's China itinery
6/8/98: Republicans' Custer offers advice
6/4/98: Oh, Dems Christian-bashers!
6/2/98: Goldwater did conservatives more harm than good
5/27/98: A Clinton-hater confesses
5/15/98: Giuliani's assault on marriage
5/13/98: Hillary knows what's best for everyone
5/11/98: To honor her would not be honorable
5/6/98: Conservative chasm: pragmatism vs. worship of marketplace
5/4/98: Anglo-saxon me
4/29/98: Needle exchange programs are assisted-suicide
4/27/98: Chretien's mission of mercy to Fidel
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4/20/98: Corporate execs deliver body parts to Beijing
4/14/98: National sales tax --- looks better all the time
4/13/98: The U.N. sinister? Hey, where did that idea come from?
4/8/98: Unions fight workers rights in 226 campaign
3/30/98: Africa's leaders should apologize
3/25/98: GOP shouldn't look to media for advice
3/22/98: You should care about Clinton's 'private life'
3/19/98: Color-coded reading, product of obsessive minds
3/16/98: Amendment will end exile of G-d from our public lives
3/9/98: Havana will break your heart
3/2/98: Vouchers Terrify Teachers' Union
2/25/98: Presidential politics starts at a resort hotel
2/23/98: Hillary's support comes at a price
2/18/98: How many times must we say "no" to gay rights?
2/16/98: Enoch Powell spoke the truth on immigration
2/11/98: Bubba behaving badly
2/9/98: A conservative dissent on the flag-burning amendment
2/5/98: We get the leaders we deserve
2/2/98: Send a signal that could penetrate boardroom doors
1/27/98: State of the president: hollow rhetoric
1/25/98: For Monica's playmate, we have no one to blame but ourselves
1/22/98: At Yale, bet on yarmulke over gown
1/19/98: Commission tackles America's fastest-growing addiction, gambling
1/15/98: Capital punishment and the hard case: no exceptions for Karla Faye Tucker
1/12/98: Partial-birth abortion and the GOP's future: the "big tent" meets truth in advertising
1/8/98: IOLTA: the Left's latest scam to crawl into our pockets
1/5/98: Connect the dots to create a terrorist state
1/1/98: The Unacceptables of 1997: Long may they rave
12/28/97: Hypocrisy is a liberal survival mechanism
12/23/97: Chanukah is no laughing matter
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12/18/97: Bosnia, Haiti, and how not to conduct a foreign policy

©1999, Creators Syndicate