Thursday, October 30, 2008

Balance in the federal judiciary

Here is an impassioned op-ed piece from today's Boston Globe about the impact of the presidential election on the composition of the federal judiciary now and for years to come. The authors, Michael Greco and Patricia Wald, describe one signal "success" of the presidency of George W. Bush--the lifetime appointment to the federal bench of individuals "with partisan political loyalties who have failed to adequately protect citizens' freedoms." Many of these judges are fairly young, and could be on the bench for several decades. Greco and Wald point out that "[m]ore than 58 percent of current federal judges were appointed by Republican presidents, over one-third by Bush alone. Ten of the 13 federal appellate courts now have wide majorities of conservative Republican appointees. Balance on the federal courts no longer exists." I have been disappointed at the lack of attention to the federal court system during the current presidential debate. Given the dire economic situation the country currently faces, it is probably not surprising that voters are more interested in bread-and-butter issues than in who sits on the federal bench. However, as Greco and Wald point out, the "quality of life for future generations, as well as the nation's longstanding commitment to justice and equality, will depend on whether those judges are impartial and fair." Just think about the kind of judges a President Palin might appoint!

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