The Chief Takes a Stand

Evidence of a backbone! mrossol
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5/9/20. WSJ

The Democratic campaign to delegitimize conservative judges goes beyond Senate threats to restructure the Supreme Court. Consider the progressive stunt that Chief Justice John Roberts put to bed Friday.

Judge Tom Griffith, a 65year-old George W. Bush appointee on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, announced in March he is retiring. A progressive group called Demand Justice, run by two Obama Administration alumni, began promoting a conspiracy theory that Judge Griffith had taken a bribe to step down. The real goal was to prevent President Trump from filling the seat, to which he has since nominated Justin Walker.

The group submitted a letter to Chief Judge Sri Srinivasan of the D.C. Circuit asking for “an inquiry into the circumstances surrounding Judge Thomas Griffith’s intended retirement” including whether he “accepted anything of value in exchange for his retirement.” The letter cited no evidence. It pointed to a New York Times article that claimed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had urged some conservative judges to step down while the Republican Senate could confirm replacements.

If that’s improper, then the chorus of liberals who called for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to retire in President Obama’s second term had better watch out. Federal judges are entitled to weigh the political environment in deciding when to retire, and Senators have no leverage over judges with lifetime appointments. In any case the smears prompted Mr. Griffith, who is known for his integrity, to give a statement to NPR last week that “the sole reason” for his decision is his wife’s “debilitating chronic illness,” and that he had told his family and clerks last year.

The Demand Justice letter ought to have been ignored. Instead Judge Srinivasan on May 1 kicked it up to Chief Justice John Roberts. Judge Srinivasan, a Barack Obama nominee, is young enough to be considered for the Supreme Court in a Joe Biden administration (but insufficiently left-wing to make Demand Justice’s Supreme Court shortlist). Perhaps fearing progressive wrath, he asked that the complaint be reviewed by a different circuit.

The request was tossed by the Chief Justice. Judge Srinivasan’s order “does not meet the prerequisites” for a judicial conduct complaint, so “the Chief Justice has determined that a transfer of the matter is not appropriate at this juncture,” said a terse note Friday to the D.C. Circuit from the Supreme Court. Put differently, there is no evidence of wrongdoing and judges shouldn’t entertain the wild conspiracies manufactured by Demand Justice.

Good for the Chief. Obama alumni laundered through the D.C. Circuit a corruption smear against a judge ending a distinguished career to care for his wife. This is the latest gambit in a comprehensive progressive campaign to intimidate and control the judiciary. The Chief can continue to protect judicial independence by putting the kibosh on the Judicial Conference’s Code of Conduct Committee’s attempt to bar judges from the Federalist Society.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

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