by Max Brantley
Court of Appeals Judge Wendell Griffen, fighting for his First Amendment rights against the state judicial discipline panel, has been given some exposure in today's NY Times. Sorry, however, you have to be a subscriber or willing to sign up for a free trial to read the piece. Here's one snippet that ought to give you an idea just how off-base this persecution of Griffen is. The state's lead persecutor seems to believe if a judge has made statements critical of an elected official, any party who's a member of the other party somehow can't expect a fair trial in that judge's courts. If so, best shut down the federal court system, where appointments are wholly political and, in the Bush era, absolutely a political litmus test. Nuts.
In an interview, James A. Badami, the commission’s executive director, elaborated. “If you are a staunch Republican and a Bush supporter and have to come before this judge,” Mr. Badami said, sounding exasperated, “and this judge has now said some terrible things about Bush and the Bush administration — and now those people are having to appear before him?”
Now, if the Bush administration and its actions were at issue in the pending case, that would be another matter. Otherwise, it's simply irrelevant, a straw man argument. Nor does Badami want a judge who's spoken up for the Golden Rule (Griffen is a part-time preacher, too).
And the disciplinary authorities act like school principals terrified of even the hint of controversy. One of the charges against Judge Griffen, for instance, is that he expressed dismay at intolerance.
At a deposition in February, Mr. Badami, the commission’s executive director, was asked whether “judges act improperly if they express their opinion disfavoring anti-homosexual animus.”
“In a public setting, yes,” he answered.