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Friday, July 1, 2011

Ethics, Politics and the Law

Ethics, Politics and the Law

The New York Times  -  EDITORIAL  -  June 30, 2011

The ethical judgments of the Supreme Court justices became an important issue in the just completed term. The court cannot maintain its legitimacy as guardian of the rule of law when justices behave like politicians. Yet, in several instances, justices acted in ways that weakened the court’s reputation for being independent and impartial.  Justices Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito Jr., for example, appeared at political events. That kind of activity makes it less likely that the court’s decisions will be accepted as nonpartisan judgments. Part of the problem is that the justices are not bound by an ethics code. At the very least, the court should make itself subject to the code of conduct that applies to the rest of the federal judiciary.  Among the court’s 82 rulings this term, 16 were 5-to-4 decisions. Of those, 10 were split along ideological lines, with Justice Anthony Kennedy supplying the fifth conservative vote. These rulings reveal the court’s fundamental inclination to the right, with the conservative majority further expanding the ability of the wealthy to prevail in electoral politics and the prerogatives of businesses against the interests of consumers and workers.

• It struck down public matching funds in Arizona’s campaign finance system, showing again a contempt for laws that provide some balance to the unlimited amounts of money flooding the political system.
• It made it much harder for private lawsuits to succeed against mutual fund malefactors, even when they have admitted to lying and cheating.
• It tore down the ability of citizens to hold prosecutors’ offices accountable for failing to train their lawyers, even when prosecutors hide exculpatory evidence and send innocent people to prison.
• It issued a devastating blow to consumer rights by upholding the arbitration clause in AT&T’s customer agreement, which required the signer to waive the right to take part in a class action.
• Finally, in the complex Wal-Mart case, the conservative majority, going beyond the particular issues in that case, made it substantially more difficult for class-action suits in all manner of cases to move forward.

These and other decisions raise the question of whether there is still a line between the court and politics, an issue since the Republican-led Rehnquist court decided Bush v. Gore in 2000, though the federal judiciary’s shift to the right has been happening since the administration of Ronald Reagan.  The framers of the Constitution envisioned law as having authority apart from politics. They gave justices life tenure so they would be free to upset the powerful and have no need to cultivate political support. Our legal system was designed to set law apart from politics precisely because they are so closely tied.  Constitutional law is political because it results from choices rooted in fundamental social concepts like liberty and property. When the court deals with social policy decisions, the law it shapes is inescapably political — which is why decisions split along ideological lines are so easily dismissed as partisan.  The justices must address doubts about the court’s legitimacy by making themselves accountable to the code of conduct. That would make their rulings more likely to be seen as separate from politics and, as a result, convincing as law.


Anonymous said...

Sadly, the words 'ethics' and 'law' can't be used in the same sentence anymore.

Anonymous said...

Totally corrupt from the top down, and the bottom up.

Anonymous said...

The US Supreme Ct is a an absolute impediment to progess for anyone not grossly rich in America.
E.J.Dione writer for the Washington post writes today, that the dissenters of that court were upholding free speech in the Arizona case and the majority only intended on enhancing money's ability to talk.
But freee speech was upheld by the majority re; the video game possession by any child of any age.... as I guess the video industry has greased some judicial hands here...big business for many years.
The conservative majority "bristles' at nearly every effort to give the less wealthy and less powerful the opportunity to prvail whether at the ballot box or the courtrooms...says Mr. Dionne.
His final statement was....What happens to Democracy when its highest court is dedicated to defending privilege? That's the experiment which we are now embarked.
Supreme Ct...the American public are on to you...change or we force the change!

Anonymous said...

not holding prosecuters accountable is a joke. That will send poor people, people that can not afford appeals to prisn by the bus loads. Prosecuters can try to put them in prison so they can show what a high rate of convictions they have. Regarding the at&t decision they are working for big copanies not the people anymore.
Look at Thomas his wife is a lobyist. The court is looking more like a court you would find in a bannana republic.

Retired Atty said...

Judges for the most part don't have any ethics because they're attys.....those are the facts, learn to live with it

Wake up sheeple said...

It's the Fourth of July. Our Declaration says, "Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, - That whenever any form of Government becomes destructive of those ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it"

Only stupid fool believes placing a black robe on a sleazy lawyer changes his nature and allows him to rule over us. They're worried about lawyers in black robes on the right and close their eyes to lawyers on the left. When you give power to people unaccountable you have natural corruption.

The prophet Samuel warned the Jewish People 3000 years ago, when they asked, "Give us a king to judge us like all the other nations have.” But, "Samuel was displeased with their request and went to the Lord for guidance." "When that day comes, you will beg for relief from this king you are demanding, but then the Lord will not help you.”

In Great Britain, Lord Acton said,
"If there is any presumption, it is the other way, against the holders of power, increasing as the power increases. Historic responsibility has to make up for the want of legal responsibility. All power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority: still more when you superadd the tendency or certainty of corruption by full authority. There is no worse heresy than that the office sanctifies the holder of it."

Only fools, left or right, believe that the office of judge sanctifies their chosen "lawyer" so that they not be corrupted by power.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

ATTENTION: Any individual or person who believes to be aggrieved or harmed by the NY State Court system please contact me at the address below if interested in pursuing a class action lawsuit and / or other action against the State of New York. It is the position of this group that New York state operates a constitutionally deficient and defective court system in many ways including denying fundamental rights of contact and visitation with minor children to Parents, either mother or father, while convicted felons/abusers in the state prison system have rights of contact and visitation with children. If you believe you are aggrieved by the Court system, the State Commission on Judicial Conduct, the Appellate Division Discipline Committees, Law Guardians and/or have been forced to endure improper Supervised Visitation programs or related problems in the NY Court system please come forward and let your voice be heard.

Blog Archive

See Video of Senator John L. Sampson's 1st Hearing on Court 'Ethics' Corruption

The first hearing, held in Albany on June 8, 2009 hearing is on two videos:

               Video of 1st Hearing on Court 'Ethics' Corruption
               The June 8, 2009 hearing is on two videos:
               CLICK HERE TO SEE Part 1
               CLICK HERE TO SEE Part 2