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Op-Ed

Just own it

September 20, 2021

There doesn't seem to be any difference between political views and judicial philosophies. In California you can rid yourself of bias by getting off Twitter.

Milt Policzer

By Milt Policzer

Courthouse News columnist; racehorse owner and breeder; one of those guys who always got picked last.

Here’s something for you to think about if you’re having trouble sleeping: what’s the difference between “judicial philosophies” and “personal political views?”

I don’t have an answer — you can decide that for yourself if you can. I bring it up because of news reports last week on a speech by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett in which she reportedly said that the “goal today is to convince you that this court is not comprised of a bunch of partisan hacks.”

So they’re nonpartisan hacks? Or partisans who are good at their jobs?

According to the news reports, Barrett said the court was split according to judicial philosophies and not political views. Apparently, it’s a coincidence that the philosophies seem to be the same as the political views.

Many people scoffed at this, noting, among other things, that the speech was given in a building named after a certain really political person who got Barrett confirmed.

So what should Supreme Court justices do to prevent further scoffing?

Just own politics. Stop pretending they’re impartial robots. We don’t believe them anyway.

Coincidentally, but predictably, a Quinniapiac poll released last week revealed that “Americans give the Supreme Court a negative job approval rating.” The polling analyst said it was the court’s “lowest approval ever.”

Pretending isn’t working.

Maybe we ought to come up with a better way of picking judges.

Now a related question: If a judge does publicly own bias, should something be done about that? If so, what? Doesn’t a disciplined judge remain biased?

I bring this up because the Commission on Judicial Performance in California last week issued a “public admonishment” of a Los Angeles judge named Michael O’Gara who posted political (or maybe philosophical) opinions on Facebook and Twitter that “gave the appearance of bias.”

Well, yeah. They did. So does a public admonishment make him not biased any more? Does it make him appear to be not biased?

My favorite part of the admonishment: “In his response to the commission, Judge O’Gara accepted that his actions on Twitter were inappropriate, expressed contrition, and advised the commission that he took corrective action by deleting the Twitter app from his phone and deactivating his account.”

Problem solved — he’s off Twitter. How could he seem or be biased now?

Magic!

More perception. Why not cheat? If your opposition is convinced (or pretends to be convinced) that you cheat whenever you win, you might as well cheat.

And then, of course, deny cheating.

I bring this up, obviously, in light of the current state of American electoral politics in which one side (I won’t name names) claims the fix is in when it loses and then does its best to put its own fix in with voting restrictions and gerrymandering and hounding election officials.

In California last week, the whining about election fraud began before the election. After all, Democrats in a state with a big Democratic majority couldn’t possibly win without fraud.

So if the fraud claims are inevitable, why worry about them?

I have some suggestions for creative cheating.

Ugandan ballots. Import boxes of filled-out ballots from Uganda. Poll watchers will be expecting Chinese bamboo ballots, so it will be easy to drop off thousands of small Ugandan boxes at polling and counting places. They’ll be mistaken for take-out deliveries.

Massive conspiracy. Instruct thousands of your friends and allies to walk into polling places and pretend to be voters who they somehow know haven’t voted yet. Since this means they can’t vote as themselves, they will need to find other voting places for their own ballots. None of them, of course, will get caught.

Food. Distract poll workers with anonymously donated free pizza. Then switch ballot boxes while they’re eating.

Hacking. Direct a massive electromagnetic pulse at voting machines statewide. Or infect the vote computers with a virus. Or bribe the vote-counting company. No one will notice or if they do, you can say the other side did it to make you look bad. The other side is going to claim you did it whether you did or not, so what the heck?

Clones. Replace all election officials with clones grown in secret Chinese pod farms. Program their minds to recognize only Democratic ballots.

Voter fraud is so easy. It’s a wonder we haven’t done it for every election. Or maybe we have….

Tactical note. Has it occurred to anyone on the Blue team to complain about voter fraud in states voting Red?

Those results in Florida and Texas look awfully suspicious. What about those potato skin strands in ballots flown in from Russia?

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