Entries in Judges (3)


Two Judges Have Harsh Words for Federal Officials

Photo By Tom Williams/Roll Call(WASHINGTON) -- Two judicial opinions this week in two very different cases had scathing language for federal officials at the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Justice.

In the first case, Judge Edward R. Korman of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York criticized Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius regarding emergency contraceptives that can be taken to reduce the risk of pregnancy after unprotected intercourse.

Last month, the court ruled against the administration and ordered that levonorgestrel-based emergency contraceptives be available over the counter and without point-of sale age restrictions. The government asked for a stay of that decision.

On Friday, Korman eviscerated Sebelius. He noted that the debate over the contraceptives has gone on for more than 12 years, “even though they would be among the safest drugs available to children and adults on any drugstore shelf.”

In 2011, the FDA concluded that one version of the drug could be sold without a prescription or an age restriction. But Sebelius reversed the FDA.

The judge said that decision was “politically motivated” and was “so unpersuasive as to call into question her good faith.”

He added that if a stay was to be granted, “It will allow the bad-faith, politically motivated decision of Secretary Sebelius, who lacks any medical or scientific expertise, to prevail – thus justifiably undermining the public’s confidence in the drug approval process.”

And he didn’t stop there. He said the FDA was negotiating a “sweetheart agreement” with one drug manufacturer. He told the government that its appeal was “frivolous and is taken for the purpose of delay,” but out of courtesy to the Court of Appeals he would allow the parties until May 13 to file their appeal in that court.

The other case, concerning the death penalty, included the dissent of a justice on the Mississippi Supreme Court.

Lawyers for death row inmate Willie Jerome Manning filed an emergency motion to stay his execution after the Department of Justice acknowledged errors in FBI hair analysis testimony during Manning’s trial.

In an 8-1 vote, the court granted the stay May 7. But one justice, Michael Randolph, wrote a scathing dissent.

Randolph said that Manning had had access to hair and other forensic evidence for years and shouldn’t have been granted the 11th-hour reprieve.

But what really set the judge off was DOJ’s admission that it was conducting a review of the issues with the Innocence Project.

Randolph noted that the Innocence Project is opposed to the death penalty. And here’s what he said about the review:  ”Although the connectivity and expediency by which this review was accomplished is mind-boggling, I should not be surprised, given that the families of victims of the clandestine ‘Fast and Furious’ gun-running operation can’t get the Department of Justice to identify the decision makers (whose actions resulted in the death of a border agent and many others) after years of inquiry, and that this is the same Department of Justice that grants and enforced Miranda warnings to foreign enemy combatants.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Gingrich: Activist Judges Should Be Arrested

Richard Ellis/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Presidential candidate and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich suggested on Sunday that he would have the Capitol Police or U.S. Marshalls arrest activist judges, citing an incident in which a sitting federal judge ordered students not to use the word “benediction” in their high school graduation.

Gingrich, who currently leads the polls in the field vying for the Republican nomination, made the suggestion in response to a hypothetical scenario posed on CBS’ Face the Nation.

“If you had to, or you’d instruct the Justice Department to send a U.S. Marshall,” he said.  “Let’s take the case of Judge Biery.  I think he should be asked to explain a position that radical.”

U.S. District Judge Fred Biery received harsh scrutiny from many in June for a ruling barring religious speech during the high school graduation ceremony at Medina Valley Independent School District in Texas.  The ruling was quickly overturned by a federal appeals court, but Gingrich used the incident to launch a greater assault on what he said is a judiciary out of touch with mainstream values.

“So I have to ask the question, is there an alternative?  What’s the recourse?” Gingrich said.

He also cited “The Federalist Papers” to make his case for weakening the judicial branch.

“The constitution promises a balance of the judicial branch, executive branch and legislative branch,” he said.  “‘The Federalist Papers’ say specifically the weakest of the three branches is the judiciary.  [Thomas] Jefferson abolished 18 out of 35 federal judges.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


White House Counsel Wants Faster Confirmation of Judges

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Calling the current high number of judicial vacancies nationwide "a matter of urgency," White House Counsel Bob Bauer Tuesday pledged to work with the new Congress to reverse the "slow crawl" of confirmations.

"We will do what it takes to break the gridlock," Bauer said.

Currently 101 of the 875 judgeships are vacant, and 48 of those are considered “judicial emergencies” because the cases filed have exceeded the capacity of judges to hear them.

In a speech at the National Press Club, Bauer said he would decline to assign blame for the climate enveloping the confirmation process on the Hill. Republicans contend that the administration has been slow to nominate judges and Democrats say that Republicans are delaying votes unfairly. Bauer said that over the years both parties have been to blame for the gridlock. He said that the administration has talked to Republican and Democrat senators behind the scenes and that both have privately admitted that the system is broken down.

Before his murder in Arizona, Judge John Roll also made the issue a priority. He asked the chief judge of the 9th Circuit to declare a state of judicial crisis in his district because the judges were overwhelmed. On the day of his death, Roll was hoping to thank Rep. Gabrielle Giffords for her support on the issue.

After Roll’s death, Chief Judge Alex Kozinski of the 9th Circuit told the Los Angeles Times that he hoped the White House and the Senate would move quickly to ease the judicial emergency.

"I hate to take advantage of such a tragedy but if this brings public attention to the pressing need of filling vacancies then that would be a welcome result," Kozinski said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio