Judges tilt to the Right. You heard it hear first. Well, no, you didn’t, because the New York Times published an article on Super Bowl Sunday that investigated a Harvard study that determined that judges lean to the right. The article attempted to go one step further, and figure out why judges lean to the right. The article failed to reach that conclusion, other than stating the higher up the judicial ladder a judge gets, the more right leaning he or she tends to be because the judge has less discretion.
The study determined that lawyers are more liberal, more left leaning than the rest of society, and that judges are more conservative than lawyers. This raises the question: should judges proportionally represent the ideology of lawyers, or some other group? Back to the statistics: the study evaluated the liberalness of different people and types of lawyers. It found, to my great surprise, that prosecutors, Big Law Lawyers, and law firm partners are more conservative than liberal, and even more liberal than judges. They are all the left of Jeb Bush, who is my bet to be the next President, regrettably. Also unsurprisingly, Government Lawyers and Public Defenders are more liberal than just about most in politics and the legal profession. I would like to no that also unsurpisingly, but someone confusingly, and certainly agonizingly, lawyers that graduated from schools outside the Top 100 are the most conservative group of lawyers. That is a real damn shame, considering they (we) make up the vast number of lawyers that have the greatest connection to everyday people, because we are every day people. Damn Fox News.
Professor Eric Posner is quoted in this article as saying that Republicans should be congratulated for being able to bring much-needed ideological balance to the judiciary. This guy is highly regarded as one of the top legal minds, like his father, who is also quoted. Now, I know I am in Texas. I know I am Harris County. I know I am in Houston. Trust me, the Republicans don’t need any congratulations. They have done a mighty fine job at controlling the ideology and course of the judicial system, and the judiciary is way too conservative from sea to shining sea!
Reagan started the War on Drugs in the 80’s. Since then, prison populations have boomed. USA incarcerated more people than any other country in the world. We have only 5% of the world’s population, but 25% of the world’s prisoners! This is a direct result of the conservative War on Drugs, and it comes at your expense. Another “recent” conservative phenomenon is tort reform, which is the result of Carl Rove and his cronies. All tort reform has done is harmed the average man, the blue collared hard worker. Both policies were accepted by the judiciary, and what both do is keep the rich rich and the poor poor. This begs the question: Is being tough on crime even a conservative value? Is not allowing the a person to sue a corporation a conservative value? Makes you think twice, doesn’t it?
Is a republican judiciary really good for you? Is a republican judiciary good for society? Think of what has been good for members of our community and communities across the country and they are undeniably liberal and undeniably successful: Drug Court, Veterans Court, Mental Health Court and Prostitution Court. These are proven, effective, and liberal. Most importantly, it is up to the judiciary, by and large, to create and support these courts.
I intended to write more about the article, namely how lawyers contribute more to political campaigns than laymen, and how future judges contribute more than lawyers who do not become judges. Judges are supposed to be neutral, but it is hard to do that when you are accountable to voters every few years, and the only people voting are grassroots hardliners.
Finally, to tie this in to trial lawyering: If judges are are still, on the whole, more liberal than society, should we go to judges more often for punishment? I think not. It has to remain a case by case judge by judge decision. That being said, wouldn’t that make for a grerat capstone project for a graduate student at Rice University or University of Houston, to do a statistical analysis to determine whether judges or juries give better sentences.