Increasing amounts of evidence are daily revealing the extensive damage our recklessly and unlawfully, inept President has already wreaked upon the world in the course of his everyday conduct, BUT there is one area for which the damage may not be seen immediately. Our federal judiciary has become infected with record breaking numbers of Trump appointed judges, who are either so biased and/or incompetent that, like a herpes infection, they will lie dormant for periods of time until one day they may suddenly erupt with some toxically damaging court ruling.
Keep in mind that the Code of Judicial Conduct, Rule 1.2, states that a judge must “act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the independence, integrity, and impartiality of the judiciary, and shall avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety.” Further remember that we have a President for whom this code is incomprehensible and who is blissfully unmindful of the importance of a properly functioning Judiciary in a free, democratic Republic. His notion of a properly functioning Judiciary is a Bench populated only with Judges who agree with his way of doing things…which is to say done to favor his personal agenda…whether it is legal or not.
This is why we must now consider an introduction to some of the worst afflicted examples of Trump appointees:
SUPREME COURT: Justice Brett Kavanaugh
Oh yes, let’s start at the top with “Bad Boy Brett”, a man unhappily, but credibly accused of sexual assault.
It is not so much that he repeatedly lied under oath at his confirmation hearing…between hysterical bouts of crying, yelling and interrupting with feigned theatrics of indignation…it is how he lied…which is to say…poorly. If ever there was a demonstration of ill temperament diametrically opposed to good judicial temperament, his performance was textbook. His dissembling testimony about his journal entry of ffff written years ago when he was a pimply teenager, was that it was an acronym referring to some innocent non-sexual event. In full view of the television cameras was a grown man, a nominee for the highest court in the land, lying straight faced to America… with a lie that was so weak, that every teenage boy from the last 60 years could have busted him right then and there. “Find them, feel them…and forget them.” This sign of a very sorry, lame teenage boy is not a disqualifier for the Supreme Court thirty or forty years later after the fact.
That is why all that Brett needed to say was that “It was a stupid sexual reference, by an immature, horny and ignorant version of myself that I quickly outgrew”. This truth would have been a perfectly understandable and acceptable admission that would have “set him free”. Instead, he lied. And in that split second and under those circumstances, he should have been able to display the requisite quickness of mind and the integrity of character that would have confirmed that he understood that “Honesty is the best policy”; and more to the point of his judicial skills…that “Honesty also is in almost any situation the best strategy! Behavior consistent with a mature adult is usually the best way to go when you are auditioning for a Judgeship on the Supreme Court of the United States.
But under this pressure, when he should have been most careful to display grace and good judgment, he choked… in a very “Un-Supreme” like manner.
And, of course, he got away with it. He got a free pass anyway… from our typically venal group of careerist Republican senators… whose only excuse for affirming him is perhaps… that not a one of them could even remember the last time their hydraulics worked properly.
LOWER COURTS: Sarah Pitlyk and Stephen Clark
Due to space constraints, there is only space enough to introduce two (above referenced) examples of recent justice appointments… although of Trump’s 150 plus such appointments who have been confirmed to date, so many of them fall into the category of “abysmal”.
In a Sept. 24, 2019 letter to lawmakers, William Hubbard, chair of the ABA’s Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary, wrote the following about Sarah Pitlyk’s absence of any trial or litigation experience.
“Ms. Pitlyk has never tried a case as lead or co-counsel, whether civil or criminal,” Hubbard wrote. “She has never examined a witness. Though Ms. Pitlyk has argued one case in a court of appeals, she has not taken a deposition. She has never argued any motion in a state or federal trial court. She has never picked a jury. She has never participated at any stage of a criminal matter.” The A.B.A. unanimously rated her as unqualified for a lifetime seat in the federal judiciary.
She was chosen because she is an extreme ideologue, whose views on human reproduction are ideal if you are a devout celibate. She has spent most of her career attacking the rights of couples who want to have children using assisted reproductive technology, or ART, like gestational surrogacy or in vitro fertilization. She has made statements to the effect that surrogacy “is harmful to mothers and children, so it’s a practice society should not be enforcing.” She has also asserted that frozen embryos should be recognized as human beings; writing that these “children” are “killed” when embryos are destroyed. Pitlyk’s position would probably outlaw not only abortion but also IVF and surrogacy.
Pitlyk will now serve as a federal judge in Missouri, where there is currently only one lonely remaining abortion clinic…which (not surprisingly) is under constant legal threat.
Good luck wanting to be a parent in Missouri and needing some form of artificial insemination. Imagine trying to assert your rights in her court room.
Missouri, the “show me” State, gets another winner, in the judgeship of Stephen Clark for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. Stephen has been showing folks that he is an ideologue and a bigot for a while.
Clark claimed in a 2016 speech at Duke University, that same-sex marriage leads to polygamy. I was not able (or likely) to find any recognized study confirming Mr. Clark’s “unusual” assertion. In another 2016 speech, he criticized a Supreme Court decision, Obergefell v. Hodges, stating that marriage equality “is not an issue for nine unelected, unaccountable people with lifetime tenure … [to] be deciding because there is not a constitutional right to same-sex marriage.” Steve wanted to get an early start showing people the extent of his homophobia.
But as an equal opportunity hater, Clark also wanted to show his distaste for women’s rights…like the right to control their own bodies. As a board of director of Lawyers for Life in 2016, he was quoted in one of their flyers, declaring: “Roe vs. Wade gave doctors a license to kill unborn children. Like the Dred Scott decision, Roe is BAD LAW.”
Every Senate Republican voted to confirm him.
So many examples…so little time. Look for my follow up to this Article, tentatively entitled… Legal Opinions are Like Assholes, Everyone Has One…Especially Those Sitting on Our Newly Trumpian Federal Bench, Which Now Has Too Many. This follow up article will advocate a “Modest Proposal” type of argument for nullifying and removing all of Trump’s “Mitch Propelled” appointments… on the obvious basis that Donald Trump is provably, mentally deranged.
As my Grandmother would say, “From your computer to God’s ears.”