Clicking on banner ads keeps JWR alive
Jewish World Review August 19, 2002 / 11 Elul, 5762

Debra J. Saunders

Debra J. Saunders
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

San Francisco, the city of outrageousness, has done it again! Beware and be aware, America | At first blush, the San Francisco Superior Court judges' unanimous vote last month to require judges to swear not to associate with the Boy Scouts seems absurdly heavy-handed. It is nasty, but it's not as outlandish as you might think.

For one thing, Angela Bradstreet, the president of the Bar Association of San Francisco, who pushed the measure, admits the resolution is not enforceable. (Only the California Supreme Court can change the Code of Judicial Ethics, the rules that dictate judges' conduct.)

Bradstreet also agrees that the San Francisco judges' measure singled out the Boy Scouts (because the group refuses to admit gays and lesbians). But she rightly points out that the measure only did so because the Code of Judicial Ethics had given the Boy Scouts a loophole. The code says, "A judge shall not hold membership in any organization that practices invidious discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, national origin or sexual orientation." It then exempts membership in religious organizations, the military and "a nonprofit youth organization" -- to wit: Boy Scouts -- in order to "accommodate individual rights of intimate association and free expression."

So the San Francisco bench's decision is consistent. If a judge can't join a club that discriminates against gays, why spare the Boy Scouts?

Alas, it is a dangerous consistency.

For one thing, the judges' new policy remedies a non-problem. I asked Bradstreet if judges associated with the Boy Scouts have behaved badly in court. Not in San Francisco, she answered. (So you know the new policy is more political than remedial.)

Bradstreet cited a 2001 Judicial Council of California study that found that "a significant number" of gays and lesbians who had contact with state courts "felt or perceived they were being discriminated against." (The report also found that a majority of homosexual respondents said "they were treated the same as everyone else.")

Would the aggrieved gays and lesbians feel comfy in courtrooms presided over by judges who were not Scoutmasters? That's not clear -- but the judges passed the ban anyway.

One California judge wrote to me, enraged at the suggestion that a Boy Scout leader/judge couldn't be impartial with homosexual litigants. Judges have to be impartial when presiding over the trials of repeat child-molesters and other violent offenders that they and the rest of society may abhor. Sometimes the law requires that they keep previous convictions from jurors -- and they do it, because they follow the law.

And if a San Francisco judge wasn't impartial with gays, noted San Francisco employment attorney Jim Hargarten, that judge should expect to pay for it. Aggrieved parties can file complaints of misconduct. Also, voters can boot bad judges off the bench during retention elections.

The justice system is supposed to punish judges who rule based on prejudice or discriminate illegally. That's behavior, Hargarten noted -- "but that's not telling me what to think."

Bradstreet argued that the issue isn't quite impartiality. "The whole issue," she explained, "is to avoid the perception that there's not an even-playing field for every litigant who appears before a judge."

Oh, the perception.

Not the reality.

And Goddess forbid that any litigant should feel uncomfortable in court. Though, apparently, it's not a problem for a Boy Scout to feel jumpy, because the San Francisco bench just "86'-ed" them from the bench.

Brad Dacus of the Pacific Justice Institute is convinced that if the judges pull this off, religion is next.

No way, Bradstreet countered. Women, for example, may not be able to be Catholic priests, but they can attend church services. There's no reason to target religion. But when I asked Bradstreet, who is a lesbian, how she would feel standing before a Muslim judge from an anti-homosexual mosque, she answered, "You have to start somewhere."

So maybe religion is next.

Boy Scouts first. Catholics later.

Bradstreet added: "Under that argument, we shouldn't have ethics rules at all. We should just say that judges should be able to join whatever organizations they want."

What a novel idea, freedom of association. Maybe someone could write a law about it.

Enjoy this writer's work? Why not sign-up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Comment JWR contributor Debra J. Saunders's column by clicking here.


08/16/02:Fraternite, liberte, envy
08/14/02: Academia's swindle
08/12/02: Humane or inane?
08/09/02: See Dick talk
08/07/02: Gore, the Messiah
08/02/02: The compassionate curriculum
07/31/02: No order in the court
07/30/02: West takes on east in the drug war
07/26/02: PC coffee 'brewhaha' Spineless in Seattle
07/24/02: No wonder the rest of the country has been known to sneer at California
07/22/02: Hail, little Caesar
07/19/02: Doctor of the Universe?
07/17/02: Johnny goes to prison
07/15/02: To win or not to win
07/12/02: A paradise for moderns
07/10/02: Hate crime, terror and murder
07/03/02: "Good things" in stir
06/24/02: True justice
06/21/02: How Davey saved California
06/19/02: Delusions of suppression
06/17/02: The Court's on trial
06/14/02: A real-life Mrs. Cleaver
06/12/02: California crude
05/31/02: FBI, investigate thyself
05/28/02: Your tax dollars on drugs
05/24/02: The Bible and the stripper
05/22/02: Who knew?
05/20/02: A modern modest proposal
05/19/02: Euros could don white hats
05/13/02: Home of the brave -- oops, scratch that
05/10/02: Colorblind U
05/08/02: License to spend
05/06/02: Conservatism can survive despite liberal bias
05/03/02:A speech like air kisses
05/02/02: Bush should end bad sentences
04/29/02: Get ready America, California is gettin' into the slave reparations business
04/26/02: Saudis' money for martyrs
04/24/02: Oooh la la, Le Pen
04/15/02: Drill Alaska -- for the children
04/11/02: A good marriage with an esteemed soul mate -- well, nothing beats it
04/09/02: Tied up and Taliban
04/05/02: No justice in reparations
04/01/02: Schools, yes; fat police, no
03/25/02: The government-induced doctor shortage
03/22/02: Conservative hypocrisy on school drug testing?
03/20/02: And now, about Russell Yates . . .
03/18/02: Bush isn't worried about alienating loyalist voters
03/13/02: No exit strategy
03/11/02: Simon hits the big time
03/06/02: He got away
03/01/02: Mary, Luke, Paul, John and Noah
02/25/02: These are good days for veep
02/21/02: Dirty bill for a dirty mess
02/19/02: Score one for Greta
02/15/02: Dose of justice needed here
02/08/02: Sunshine all around
02/04/02: Does citizenship matter?
02/01/02: End the coverup
01/30/02: Try this for "troubling"
01/25/02: Camp X-ray or Club Med?
01/23/02: Let's stop the deluge of porn e-mail
01/21/02: No 'Little Boy Lost'
01/16/02: Son of Supercar
01/12/02: Beware the European view of the death penalty
01/09/02: Other people's children
01/07/02: It doesn't fly
01/03/02: Going from the Atlantic City Boardwalk to Berkeley
12/31/01: In America, punishment should fit the crime
12/28/01: What I'd like to see in 2002
12/24/01: Don't heckle ink monopolists
12/21/01: Mumia finds safety in numbers
12/19/01 The self-help PBS shopping network
12/17/01 Caught on tape
12/14/01 Know when to hold 'em
12/10/01 Old friends
12/06/01 I read the news today, oh boy
12/03/01 It's not cricket
11/28/01 Admissions and omissions
11/26/01 Guns and abayas
11/21/01 Depraved minds think alike
11/19/01 Guilty, a la carte
11/14/01 Interpreting the entrails of Election 2000
11/12/01 Life and liberty
11/09/01 Safety is as safety does
11/07/01 More hot air on global warming
11/05/01 Bumped Pakistani's molehill
11/01/01 Freedom snuffed out
10/29/01 Give war a chance
10/26/01 Airline bill needs liftoff
10/22/01 The Riordan Principle
10/19/01 Before America gets tired of the war on terrorism
10/17/01 Patriot games
10/15/01 I was a 'McCainiac,' and I have seen the light
10/12/01 University of Censorship's fall semester
10/11/01 Poor little rich boy, Osama
10/07/01 Don't feed Israel to the beast
10/05/01: bin Laden is not our Frankenstein monster
10/04/01: Where no man has gone before
09/26/01: Who's bloodthirsty?
09/26/01: What's to understand?
09/20/01: Barbara Lee's line in the sand
09/14/01: You gotta love this country
09/13/01: ENTER TERROR
09/11/01: You can't clone ethics
09/06/01: NOW's goal: equal rights for women without equal responsibility
08/30/01: What's love got to do with it?
08/24/01: A clean, well-lighted place for junkies
08/20/01: Bush should stand up for justice
08/08/01: Don't give Peace (Dept). a chance
08/03/01: Lose a kid, pass a law
08/01/01: Welcome to France, killers
07/30/01: Why it's easy being green (in Europe)
07/26/01: If disabled means expendable
07/23/01: Condit should not resign
07/18/01: Feinstein should learn her limit
07/16/01: A drought of common sense
07/13/01: The catalog has no clothes
07/05/01: It's Bush against the planet
07/03/01: The man who would be guv
06/29/01: Wheeled, wired and free
06/27/01: O, fearful new world
06/25/01: End HMO horrors
06/21/01: Either they're dishonest or clueless
06/18/01: Freedom is a puff of smoke
06/15/01: In praise of going heavy: Yes, you can take it all
06/13/01: McVeigh: 'Unbowed' maybe, but dead for sure
06/11/01: Gumby strikes back
06/08/01: Los Angeles' last white mayor?
06/07/01: Kids will be kids, media will be media
06/04/01: Draw a line in the sand
05/30/01: Just don't call him a moderate
05/29/01: Operation: Beat up on civil rights
05/24/01: Of puppies, kittens and huge credit-card debts
05/22/01: Bush needs an energy tinkerbell
05/18/01: Divided we stand, united they fall
05/16/01: Big Bench backs might over right
05/15/01: Close SUV loophole
05/11/01: Kill the test, welcome failure
05/09/01: DA mayor's disappointing legacy
05/07/01: If it ain't broken ...
05/03/01: They shoot civilians, don't they?
04/30/01: Executions are not for prime time
04/12/01: White House and the green myth
04/10/01: The perjurer as celeb
04/04/01: Bush bashers don't know squat
04/02/01: Drugging our oldsters
03/30/01: Robert Lee Massie exercises his death wish
03/28/01: Cheney's nuclear reactor
03/26/01: Where California and Mexico meet
03/16/01: Boy's sentence was no accident
03/14/01: Soft money, hard reform
03/12/01: Banks, big credit lines and consumer bankruptcy
03/09/01: Free speech dies in Berkeley
03/02/01: When rats have rights
02/28/01: Move a frog, go to jail?
02/26/01: They knew they'd get away with it
02/20/01: How Dems define tax fairness
02/16/01: The jackpot casino Carmel tribe?
02/14/01: You can fight school success
02/12/01: Hannibal -- with guts this time
02/08/01: A family of jailbirds
02/05/01: Reality's most demeaning TV moments
02/01/01: Justice for the non-Rich
01/26/01: Hail to the chiefs of D.C. opinion
01/24/01: A day of mud and monuments
01/22/01: Diversity, division, de-lovely D.C.
01/19/01: Parties agree: Give back the money
01/17/01: Get tough with the oil companies, or forget pumping more Alaskan crude
01/15/01: Mineta better pray that no attending confirmation senator has ever driven to San Jose during rush hour
01/12/01: Europeans should look in the mirror
01/10/01: Dems' reasons for dissin' Dubya's picks
01/08/01: Jerry, curb your guru
01/03/01: A foe of Hitler and friend of Keating
12/28/00: Nice people think nice thoughts
12/26/00: The Clinton years: Epilogue
12/21/00: 'Tis the season to free nonviolent drug offenders 12/18/00: A golden opportunity is squandered
12/15/00: You can take the 24 years, good son
12/13/00: Court of law vs. court of public opinion
12/08/00: A salvo in the war on the war on drugs
12/06/00: Don't cry, Butterfly: Big trees make great decks
12/04/00: Florida: Don't do as Romans did
11/30/00: Special City's hotel parking ticket
11/27/00: No means yes, yes means more than yes
11/22/00: The bench, the ballot and fairness
11/20/00: Mendocino, how green is your ballot?

© 2000, Creators Syndicate