America’s Crisis of Judicial Ethics: A Call to Action
The entirely biased rulings on President Trump’s immigration executive order by leftist federal “Judge” James Robart of Seattle, upheld by three-”judges” of the far-left Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, is unfortunately not shocking. It follows on the heels of the utterly lawless Obergefell decision in which two “justices” of the US Supreme Court refused to recuse themselves despite having performed “gay weddings” during the pendency of the case, the most egregious abuse of judicial ethics in the history of the high court.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan might just as well have taken a sledge hammer to the blindfolded statute of Lady Justice, since they reduced the presumption of impartiality in our courts to rubble on that day. Robart and his comrades salted through our judicial system, were given “carte blanch” by the Obergefell majority to substitute their personal ideology for the rule of law, and a new era of increased leftist judicial tyranny and obstructionism began.
The sad state of our judiciary is one of the most disheartening consequences of America’s continuing moral degeneration. Corruption and abuse of power has always existed in human legal systems, as the reference to the “unjust judge” in Luke 18:6 attests. But a hallmark of an advanced Christian society is a truly impartial judiciary and America was once the gold standard in this. I emphasize “Christian” society (by which I mean Judeo-Christian) because true justice is only possible when the law it administers is itself clear, rational and immutable. Only the Bible truly meets that criteria, which is why the concept of “stare decisis” (binding legal precedent) originated in the common law of Christian Europe.
Stare decisis, the Latin phrase meaning “to stand by what is already decided,” is the bedrock on which stands the Rule of Law as contrasted with the Rule of Man. It originated in the middle ages in England (when the Roman symbol of Lady Justice was first blindfolded to emphasize equal justice under law) and, by virtue of the eventual global dominance of the British Empire, has shaped or strongly influenced nearly every system of jurisprudence in the world.
The Rule of Law presupposes that judges are instruments of Almighty God for resolving disputes, setting aside their own opinions and biases to be a conduit of His will, and thus when one judge has ruled on a matter, that matter is settled, since God doesn’t change. The entire system depends upon the integrity of the judges, and their submission to the Law Above the Law. It is not surprising, therefore, that the erosion of judicial ethics in America parallels the rise of secularism in our society, and is most clearly observed where issues of Biblical morality are at stake.
I first encountered the crisis of judicial ethics as a newly awakened pro-life activist in the late 1980s when Judge Nely Johnson was forced to recuse herself from the case of the so-called “Lovejoy Eight” in Portland Oregon. She had jailed these eight pro-lifers indefinitely, granting them freedom only if they agreed to pledge never again to “trespass” at an abortion clinic. It wasn’t the blatant unconstitutionality of her order that stopped her, only the public disclosure of her election campaign fundraising letter that began “Dear Pro-Choice Supporter.”
My next encounter was a 1992 battery lawsuit against me personally by a lesbian activist from Just Out magazine who set me up in a trap called “Bird Dogging.” The goal was to publicly smear me because I was the spokesman for a pro-family ballot initiative (Measure 9) seeking to amend the Oregon constitution to block special rights minority status based on homosexuality. The corrupt Multnomah County court system appointed a corporate lawyer from NIKE corporation (a strong opponent of the ballot measure) as my judge.
My “sure-fire win” in the case was the Assistant District Attorney’s written report rejecting criminal charges (and consequently civil liability) because the self-described “Bull Dyke” confessed she was criminally trespassing during the incident. However, when the ADA suffered a memory lapse in court, the “Judge” threatened my newly licensed attorney with sanctions if he tried to show the jury the report itself and he caved. Thus I lost and became the subject of a million-dollar “October Surprise” ad buy of the No on 9 committee characterizing me as a Nazi-like lesbian-beater. That was the first of five major lawsuits brought against me by LGBT activists and the reason I became a lawyer myself.
As an attorney, I encountered more serious ethical breaches by judges, the most egregious being the ruling by Judge Vaughn Walker (the guy who came out as a homosexual after ruling against California’s marriage-protecting Measure 8 and then retiring). Walker said the free speech rights of my two African American female clients, employees of the City of Oakland, were “vanishingly small,” and upheld the city‘s refusal to let them form a Good News Employee Association as an alternative to the Gay and Lesbian Employees Association. The pinnacle of my career as a constitutional lawyer was arguing their appeal before a three judge panel of the Ninth Circuit, held in special session at Stanford University, so these leftist “judges” could give Stanford law students a good look at how Christian conservatives can be denied constitutional rights with impunity. They then left the decision “unpublished,” knowing it would never survive use as a precedent for other cases. Very shrewd but thoroughly unethical.
There’s a lot of hand-wringing by conservatives about the federal judiciary today but this is not in insoluble problem. A vigorous utilization of its impeachment powers by a resolute U.S. Congress can save us from these tyrants, and a pitchforks-and-torches level of populist anger can put the steel in the spine of our federal legislators to make it happen.
I further call on the U.S. Justice Department to immediately publish a statement outlining the fundamentals of judicial ethics to which American jurists are subject — simple and straightforward enough to give citizens a standard to measure judges’ conduct against — and to create a new division of the department to investigate breaches of judicial ethics and issue public reports on their conclusions, and to recommend public sanctions including impeachment to the Congress in cases of serious violations.
Ethics only fail when judges face no consequences. They must be held accountable by the people, through pressure on the other branches of government!
First published at Scott Lively Ministries
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