Fred Smith barely found his seat in the Arkansas House of Representatives before he was forced to relinquish it. The Crawfordsville Democrat was accepted by the House at the beginning of the legislative session last month, the members rejecting a complaint that he really lived in Mississippi. Within a few days he'd been convicted of felony theft in connection with events that took place before he was elected. He resigned his seat, sparing the House the trouble of expelling him.
In most sessions, Smith would stand out as the worst freshman legislator — Rookie of the Year, so to speak. But Sen. Bruce Holland has game too. Spied speeding, Holland fled from a Perry County deputy sheriff who said the Greenwood Republican led him on a chase at speeds in excess of 100 miles an hour, recklessly passing other vehicles in the attempt to escape. It first appeared that Holland would get off with a scolding, but he's now been charged with fleeing, careless driving, and improper passing.
Here is the fruit of term limits. Some of us long for a return to democracy, when the voters of Arkansas were allowed to choose their lawmakers.
Here come the judges
The Far Right, on the other hand, has never bought into the idea of letting the people and their elected representatives handle important matters. Rule by judicial activist is more to the taste of hard-core conservatives. Naturally, they're pleased that an unelected federal judge in Florida has declared invalid federal health-care legislation that was proposed by a freely elected president, and approved by a freely elected Congress.
The belligerent judge in this case is a Ronald Reagan appointee, and typical of the group. Reagan made a point of naming only right-wing Republicans to the federal bench, and they've come through for The Gipper many times over, most forcefully when five Supreme Court justices wrenched a presidential election away from the voters and installed a new president themselves. (A president who turned out to be among the worst ever, it's worth mentioning. Maybe the worst.) More recently, they've struck down federal law restricting political contributions by corporations, holding that corporations are people, except with more rights.
Party loyalty is the quality that most distinguishes Reagan-Republican judges, and as they're still in the majority on the Supreme Court, health-care reform is probably doomed. Like the millions of Americans who'll continue to be denied health care if the new law is crushed. They should have had the foresight to be born corporations.