The phony bias claim about Judge Taylor in the NSA case

Wednesday, August 23, 2006 at 05:36 PM

This burns my butt as bad as anything the propaganda mill has done in quite some time.  So the pseudo-watchdog group "Judicial Watch" claims that Judge Taylor, who recently ruled that the NSA warrantless surveillance program was unconstitutional, is so biased that her failure to recuse herself calls for "investigation," and, by implication, no one should take her ruling in the case seriously.

What is she accused of?  Well, the Judicial Watch hounds offer up a broad smear of her actions in several cases, but as to the NSA case in particular, her offense is being a contributor to the ACLU, the very entity which brought the case.

Wow, that's some serious self-interest!  A contributor to a public interest legal group dedicated to protecting all citizens from governmental intrusion on their civil rights.  And the "all citizens" is important--the ACLU is not a political animal.  It favors neither Democrats nor Republicans, and is renowned for protecting the rights of many plaintiffs who hold views that the ACLU finds repugnant, including the American Nazi Party and similar loons.

This is nothing more than the usual attempt by the right to politicize everything to the point that the system itself no longer works.  Every action, every decision, can be understood only by analyzing the political affiliations and values of the decision maker.  Everything is partisan, so there is no right or wrong--what a great approach by the party of moral values.

But, of course, if we adopt a new rule that financial or other support for a group means that you can't hear any case involving that group, then we have deep problem, folks.  If a Republican is sued or prosecuted (hard to imagine, isn't it?), who could hear the case?  If the judge is Democratic, the Republican claims bias.  If the judge is Republican, the opponent claims bias.  So who hears the case?

And exactly how close does your support for a party have to be?  What about the dumptruck full of judges who are or have been members of the Chamber of Commerce?  Are they now all ineligible to hear any case involving a commercial business?  Are the growing number of conservative zealots from the Federalist Society ineligible to hear any case involving a party who is conservative?  What about presiding over any issue on which the conservatives have a position?  Could they possibly be "unbiased" in deciding the constitutionality of a piece of social legislation, given that they generally find all such legislation to be beyond the parameters allowed by the constitution?

This is outrageous, literally.  Actually, it's just plain crap.

And of course the media feels compelled to "report" the fact that "someone" has asserted a claim of bias.  Even when the more thorough reports also note that the complaining party (Judicial Watch) has an agenda of its own, as the New York Times did, they don't go into much detail about that bias because that would be injecting subjectivity into the coverage--it isn't part of this story.  So the Times, for example, simply notes that Judicial Watch is "a conservative organization."  No mention of the facts, as provided by Wikipedia, that:

Judicial Watch receieves funding from mainly conservative sources. In 2002, Judicial Watch received $1.1 million from The Carthage Foundation and a further $400,000 from the Sarah Scaife Foundation. The year before the Scaife Foundation gave $1.35 million and Carthage $500,000.

In all, between 1997 and 2002 Judicial Watch received $7,069,500 (unadjusted for inflation) in 19 grants from a handful of foundations. The bulk of this funding came from just three foundations -the Sarah Scaife Foundation, The Carthage Foundation and the John M. Olin Foundation, Inc. [6]

The far right has figured out exactly how to manipulate the canons of journalistic ethics, how to feign indignation at the ordinary, how to fund an infinite number of "watchdogs" that pretend to be serving the public and, by far the most dangerous, how to so pollute the public debate on any issue that the average citizen can't help but be confused.

The appeal of Judge Taylor's ruling, by the way, is going to an Appellate Court that is highly conservative.  Since this group of zealots is presumably hostile to the ACLU, are they qualified to sit in judgment?  If not, who is?

Get ready to kiss the American system of government good-by, courtesy of a small group of zealots with money, who fund an endless stream of groups and individuals with the sole task of making sure that sens, fairness, and objectivity never again see the light of day.