Monday, December 05, 2005

Massachusetts Chief Justice Caught With Impartial Pants Down

Margaret Marshall is the chief justice of the Massachusetts state Supreme Judicial Court. She has, in the past, attacked what she call the "rhetoric" about judges destroying the country. She claims the suggestion that court decisions should conform to public opinion is threatening public trust in the judicial system, a cornerstone of democracy.Yet this widely criticized judicial activist who wrote the court's 2003 decision allowing same-sex marriage, has now had to apologize for her own remarks.

After a citizen complaint was filed with the state's Commission on Judicial Conduct, the chief justice has apologized for a remark she made about "red states" during a commencement speech last spring.

In greeting the audience at the Brandeis University commencement last May, Chief Justice Margaret Marshall commented on the hundreds of blue and white balloons held in nets tied to the rafters.

"No red states here," Marshall told the crowd, using a term used to describe Republican-leaning states.

Here are some interesting facts about this judge.

She married Anthony Lewis, former columnist for the New York Times. The Boston Globe, a big fan of the activist Marshall, is owned by the New York Times Company.

In an opinion where Marshall struck down a Boston ordinance creating domestic partners because it was clearly forbidden by state law the Boston Globe wrote:

"Marshall urged state lawmakers to craft legislation that acknowledges the place of nontraditional families in modern life. 'We recognize that . . . [a] "family" may no longer be constituted simply of a wage-earning father, his dependent wife, and the couple's children,' Marshall wrote. Nonetheless, 'Adjustments in the legislation to reflect these new social and economic realities must come from the Legislature.'"

And the Globe wrote: "When the SJC last August ruled that anyone convicted of a sex crime is entitled to a hearing before being listed on the state's sex-offender registry, Marshall wrote: 'The burden will be on the sex offender board to establish at the hearing that the offender poses a risk to vulnerable populations.'"

Are we seeing conflict of interest yet? That does not seem to bother Marshall. She attends functions that clearly strain any perception of her judicial impartiality. She attended a Gala of the Women's Bar Association where the featured speaker was the former Press Secretary for Bill Clinton, Dee Dee Myers, who warmly acknowledged Marshall and noted that both of them were married to the New York Times, because they both had husbands who worked there. At that political event, a lawyer, Mary Bonauto, who is employed by the homosexual law firm, GLAD, was honored. Bonauto had cases pending in the Massachusetts courts at that time.

She was the honored guest and keynote speaker at the, Massachusetts Lesbian and Gay Bar Association. That organization reported in its newsletter that Marshall, who was born in South Africa and moved here to attend college, noted "with pride" that her native land was the first country to write sexual orientation protections into the national Constitution. In 1998, South Africa's courts struck down laws banning sodomy between consenting adults. According to MLGBA, "Marshall read excerpts from the stirring decision. The Justice encouraged those lawyers in attendance to pay attention to the growing body of gay-friendly international jurisprudence." She told the audience
that lawyers in other countries have been referring to equality jurisprudence in the United States for several hundred years and that perhaps it is the time for lawyers in the United States to seek assistance from courts in other countries like South Africa, where new precedents are now being set. Is that not a frightening statement from an American judge?

In her apology, Marshall said: "I hold sacred my oath to decide every case fairly and impartially and according to law."

But who's law and how does this woman define fair and impartial? Power Mad Margaret is exactly the kind of judge that has helped create the outcry against the abuse of authority by the judiciary in this country. Her actions and statements leave the integrity and independence of the law open to question. She has failed to refrain from the appearance of impropriety which is absolutely vital to maintain people's faith in the justice of our courts.

Marshall is reaping what she herself has sown.

Some analysts accused Marshall of ''muddying the waters" with her suggestion that critics want polls to drive judicial decisions. Judicial activism ''doesn't have anything to do with whether their opinions are popular or unpopular," said Brian Camenker, director of Article 8 Alliance, a Waltham group founded to remove Marshall and the other three justices who ruled for same-sex marriage from the bench.

'' 'Activist judges' is a specific term that refers to judges who rule outside the rule of law," he said. ''It has to do with whether they use objective, legal, constitutional means to base their decisions."

Perhaps Margaret should heed her own words, ''Each new generation must decide, each of you must decide, whether to embrace, to protect the rule of law, or to repudiate it," she said.

Well Margaret, we are asking you to follow the rule of law not write it.

Thanks to these sources:
Massachusetts News
The Boston Globe

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