Republican Judge Jerry Smith of the 5th Circuit responded to the president's recent comments by ordering the Department of Justice to submit a three-page letter which amounted little more than a political stunt from an immature judge who puts his politics above his oath of office. Republicans have been attacking state and federal courts for decades. Apparently, Federal Judge Jerry Smith can dish it out but can't take it. His legacy will be defined by his childish ego driven stunt. He will get what he deserves, permanent search results displaying articles detailing his stunt.
He has tarnished the federal bench, but I doubt he cares about that. Judge's can get so wrapped up in their egos and own self-importance that they can't see beyond themselves. They can sometimes live in narrow little worlds with little army's of people kowtowing to them like kings. One must wonder if that is Smith's affliction.
As a lawyer, it is hard not to agree that he is certainly an embarrassment. The judiciary lives on its credibility as apoliticial. In recent years, Republican Judge's have become increasingly activist in their approach. Governors have become increasingly political in their appointments, choosing less qualified politicians to fill judicial seats. Smith just plays into the narrative that judges have become politicians in robes.
Referring several times to "Obamacare," the derisive name used by opponents of the Affordable Care Act, Smith said Obama's remarks troubled a lot of people. And, without consulting his two colleagues, Smith said he wanted in writing that the Justice Department recognizes the federal court's authority -- even though no ones challenging that authority in the case.
The larger concern, especially after last week's oral arguments at the Supreme Court, is that Americans can no longer have any confidence that judges, especially on the right, are guided by anything other than partisan and ideological goals. Our system of government relies heavily on an independent judiciary, but some judges appear willing, even eager, to blur the line between their duties and political activism. When Americans start to see conservative judges as Republicans, rather than just Republican appointees, the integrity of the courts suffers in immeasurable ways.
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