Friday, August 1, 2008

Will the Real Activist Judges Please Stand Up

Cartoon by Neal Obermeyer from the Lincoln Journal Star

This is an interesting article that my good friend LG pointed out to me, about a study to determine if judges at the supreme court show political bias in their rulings, and hence, whether they could be determined to be activist judges. One major finding:

...widespread conservative complaints about "liberal judicial activism" should be taken with many grains of salt. If we ask how often the justices vote to strike down agency decisions, Scalia and Thomas, the most conservative members of the Supreme Court, show the most activist voting patterns. By contrast, the justices commonly described as "liberal" are the least activist.--By Cass R. Sunstein, The Washington Independent
The article goes on to point out (with stats) that the situation is even worse in the lower courts;
The lower federal courts could prove an even more serious barrier. Those courts have been stocked with appointees of Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush. The voting behavior of appointees has been clear: They show a distinctive tendency to strike down agency decisions that do not follow a conservative line.
I can't say I am surprised at all, but it is nice to have the real data and it will certainly be helpful when wingnut acquaintances send stupid emails about "activism from the bench. "