Friday, May 20, 2005

In case you forgot about those judges Bush likes so much

Salon has it all summarized in one place, without the extensive information from People for the American Way.

There's a couple of points that need to be hammered home:

1. Priscilla Owen is more corrupt by orders of magnitude than anything that was alleged against Abe Fortas. Actually, Conason nailed that:

Ethical standards seem to have declined considerably over the past four decades -- at least among Republican senators and their preferred nominees for the federal bench. What compromised the late Fortas to an unacceptable degree now looks quaintly innocent compared with the record of Priscilla Owen, who has taken hundreds of thousands of dollars from companies and lawyers with cases in her court -- and issued rulings favorable to them on many, many occasions....

...Among the most notorious examples is a case in which Owen wrote the majority opinion that allowed Enron Corp. to escape more than $200,000 in school district taxes. In her 1994 campaign, she took $8,600 from the Houston energy firm and $31,550 from its lawyers at the powerhouse firm of Vinson & Elkins; her consultant Rove also worked for Enron. Two years later, when Spring Independent School District vs. Enron reached her court, she did not recuse herself from the case. Her opinion allowed Enron to choose its own method for valuation, cutting the taxable property assessment by millions of dollars...

...One of her better-known dissents came in a case that tested the constitutionality of a state law that had been written specifically to exempt a land developer from the city of Austin's water quality regulations.

Having taken $2,500 from that developer (and an additional $45,000 from the developer's law firm), Owen blasted her colleagues for violating the firm's "property rights," which included the right to foul the water supply in her view. The majority replied that her dissent was "nothing more than inflammatory rhetoric and thus merits no response."

So Owens' ethical standards are reminiscent of raw sewage.

2. Janice Rogers Brown is a member of the Federalist Society. Most importantly, she is viscerally opposed to, it seems, any reasonable regulation of private enterprise. So she's anti-consumer.

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