FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

There Goes the Judge?

Photo Source Patrick Feller | CC BY 2.0

I don’t trust judges. My experiences with those who sit above the rest of the courtroom wearing robes and assuming all will rise when they enter have rarely been positive and never worth repeating. The idea that another human whose primary difference from the rest of us is that they feel they have the knowledge, understanding and most of all the right to sit in judgment of others is one I have unwillingly acknowledged but never accepted. Like a confessor priest is to Catholics, the men and women on the bench dole out punishments and demand obedience from those who stand before them. Also like a Catholic confessor, the more arrogant among the judiciary probably think they too are doing the work of their god.

Me, I’m not buying it. From John Roberts to Earl Warren and Felix Frankfurter to the first Chief Justice John Jay, the judges in the highest court in the land are just as human as that lawyer advertising their personal injury business on TV. More than anything else, it is their ambition that got them to where they are now. Bob Dylan once sang that he was “ashamed to live in a land where justice was just a game.” His words ring truer than ever these days, when cops walk free after murdering unarmed people and privileged white rapists are barely punished by judges whose understanding of the law all too often seems to depend on the wealth and social position of the defendant. Like virtually all those in powerful positions, many judges’ sense of justice has been compromised probably more than once and their sense of duty has not always been to the principles they pontificate about, but to those who have helped them along their way.

All but one of my court appearances had to do with the possession of marijuana or my involvement in a protest. The sole exception involved a disturbing the peace charge that was eventually bargained down to a civil complaint over a noise ordinance. After the judge admonished me about playing music too loud, she gave me a ten dollar fine. As for the marijuana possession appearances, all but one of them resulted in me being sentenced to probation and community service. A friend who got busted with me one of the times had a different fate. While he stood on a platform surrounded by a mahogany rail in the Berkeley City Court and listened to the charge being read, the two cops who had busted him and me sat next to the prosecutor. The next part of the procedure would have the public defender enter my friend’s plea. Instead, the judge looked over to the prosecutor and the cops and told the court he was dismissing the charges. To say the least, the cops and prosecutor were surprised. Before the prosecutor could respond, the judge looked at the cops and calmly called them out, stating that after reading the arrest report he had come to the conclusion that the arrest was illegal, without probable cause and stunk of police harassment. Furthermore, he continued, if they ever attempted to bring someone into his court under similar circumstances, he would bring contempt charges against the two police officers. Most of the courtroom could barely contain their glee as they watched the cops leave the courtroom. I wouldn’t swear that they were embarrassed, but I’m certain they were pissed off. My charge was dropped. Justice had been served. Of course, after that episode, my friend and I were on the cops’ shit list and tread carefully whenever we saw them.

I tell this anecdote to make a point. Even if one doesn’t believe the justice system in the United States is fair, it can make a difference who the judges are. Even though the system of justice in the United States is weighted towards those who pursue and protect profit, are white and male, a judge who leans towards the rights of the powerless and disenfranchised might keep a person out of jail. In the case of the Supreme Court, such a judge might bend the interpretation of the Constitution towards those without power in this nation. Their presence won’t change the essential nature of the justice system, but it might make life a bit less difficult for those whom the power elites do not represent.

All of which brings me to Bret Kavanaugh. This man should never sit on any court, much less the Supreme Court. His judicial philosophy is informed by an elitist interpretation of the Constitution which is further reinforced by his elitist upbringing. His involvement in the torture of detainees under the Bush administration, the sexual assaults he is accused of and denies, the lying under oath in his earlier confirmation hearings—all of these are not just examples of one mans arrogance and self-righteousness. No they are symptomatic of the very nature of the system that grooms men and women to rule over the rest of us.

Bret Kavanaugh needs to be sent back to his suburban mansion without a job on the Supreme Court, thankful that he isn’t disbarred. Ideally, he should be forced out of the entire judiciary and be relegated to chasing ambulances and buying tickets to Nationals games. I’m not holding my breath.

More articles by:

Ron Jacobs is the author of Daydream Sunset: Sixties Counterculture in the Seventies published by CounterPunch Books. His latest offering is a pamphlet titled Capitalism: Is the Problem.  He lives in Vermont. He can be reached at: ronj1955@gmail.com.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
February 17, 2020
Sheldon Richman
Anti-BDS Laws Violate Our Freedom
John Horning
NEPA is Our National Defense System

Evelyn Leopold
How the UN’s Middle East Peace Plan Was Trounced by Its Own Members
Stephen Cooper
“Just Mercy” and Justice Don’t Exist in Alabama
Patrick Cockburn
Sinn Fein’s Victory is Ireland’s ‘Brexit Moment’ When Left-Out Voters Turn on the Elite
Ralph Nader
“Democratic Socialism” – Bring it on Corporate Socialists!
Phillip Doe
Every Day’s a Holiday for the Oil Business in Colorado
Binoy Kampmark
Fashion Fetishism, Surgical Masks and Coronavirus
Cesar Chelala
The Democrats’ New Chapter
Robert Koehler
The Wall: Separating Democracy From Voters
Peter Cohen
Time to Retire the “He Can’t Beat Trump” Trope
Sr. Kathleen Erickson
Lessons From Ministering on the Border
Alvaro Huerta
Another Five Lessons for Democrats to Defeat Trump in 2020
Wim Laven
Donald Trump’s Plan for America: Make it Ignorant
Christopher Brauchli
You Tube’s Trump Predicament
Steve Klinger
Trump Shoots Romney at Prayer Breakfast; GOP Shrugs
Elliot Sperber
Ode to the City Bus 
James Haught
Megachurch Mess
Weekend Edition
February 14, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
Mayor Mike, Worse Than Mayor Pete
Bruce E. Levine
“Sublime Madness”: Anarchists, Psychiatric Survivors, Emma Goldman & Harriet Tubman
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Leader of the Pack
Jennifer Matsui
The Doomsday Cuckoo Clock
Paul Street
Things Said in Confidence to 4000 Close Friends This Week
Jonathan Cook
Even With Corbyn Gone, Antisemitism Threats Will Keep Destroying the UK Labour Party
Thomas Klikauer
Cambridge Analytica: a Salesgirl’s Report
Joseph Natoli
Vichy Democrats vs. the Master Voice
David Rosen
Sanders vs. the Establishment Democrats: McGovern All Over Again?
Louis Proyect
Marx, Lincoln and Project 1619
Robert Hunziker
Amazon Onslaught
Russell Mokhiber
NPR and the Escalating Attack on Single-Payer Health Care
Ramzy Baroud
Breaking with Washington: Arabs and Muslims Must Take a United Stance for Palestine
Mike Miller
Race and Class: Overcoming the Divides
Michael Brennan
Timeline: How the DNC Manipulated 2016 Presidential Race 
Jacob G. Hornberger
U. S. Lies and Deaths in Afghanistan
Rev. William Alberts
Trump Served Up Projection at the National Prayer Breakfast
Nick Pemberton
The Overwhelming Sex Appeal Of Bernie Sanders
David Swanson
Why This Election Is Different
Dan Bacher
Western States Petroleum Association Tops CA Lobbying Expenses with $8.8 Million Spent in 2019
Christopher Ketcham
The Medium Warps the Message Straight to Our Extinction
Erik Molvar
Trump’s Gutting of NEPA Will Cut the Public Out of Public Lands Decisions
William Kaufman
Tulsi Gabbard: A Political Postmortem
Colin Todhunter
Menace on the Menu in Post-EU Britain
Gregory Elich
Mnangagwa’s Neoliberal Assault on the Zimbabwean People
Ron Jacobs
The Lies of Industry and the Liars Who Sell Them
Binoy Kampmark
Subverting the Blacklist: Kirk Douglas’s Modest Contribution
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail