May 16, 2008
From the Desk of Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton:
Election 2008: What the Media Isn’t Telling You
We held a tremendous educational panel this week at the National Press Club here in Washington, DC. Joining me to discuss "Election 2008: What the Media Isn’t Telling You" were Jim Bopp, the noted First Amendment lawyer with the firm Bopp, Coleson, and Bostrom; Cliff Kincaid, president of America’s Survival, Inc. and editor for Accuracy in Media (AIM); and Curt Levey, executive director of The Committee for Justice.
The panel was taped by C-SPAN and I expect it should run a few times over the next several days (check C-SPAN’s schedule here). For those who want some info now, what follows is an abridged version of my opening remarks:
When it comes to the coverage of presidential campaigns, many criticize the press for focusing on the so-called ‘horse-race,’ as opposed to the important public policy issues at stake. Some of this criticism is justified; some of it is not justified. Yes, the major media covers who’s up and who’s down and often just repeats the story of the day pushed by individual campaigns. But it is up to candidates, activists, and independent groups to highlight issues that advance the public debate beyond the latest poll numbers, delegate counts, and Electoral College math. (Judicial Watch does not oppose or endorse candidates for public office.)
Our goal is not necessarily to bash the press, but to highlight issues that deserve more coverage from media during this election year.
For example, why is it that Hillary Clinton’s past ethics record has been virtually ignored? She’s been the subject of a grand jury investigation, and escaped indictment for perjury and obstruction of justice by the skin of her teeth. Yet, this is coyly referred to as ‘baggage’ by most of the media. Jerry Seper of The Washington Times recently uncovered some amazing documents that chronicle the concerns federal investigators had about her criminality, but if this new information appeared in other media outlets, I haven’t seen it.
Nearly two years ago, Democrats rode the anti-corruption issue all the way to majority control of Congress. Yet, while indicted members of both parties continue to sit in Congress, corruption has faded as an important policy issue despite the questionable resumes of leading candidates for the presidency.
As I’ve already noted, the story of Hillary corruption is long and deep. But Barack Obama is being given a pass on corruption issues as well. I’m not talking about his racist life coach Jeremiah Wright. Tony Rezko, who is waiting as we speak for a jury verdict on corruption charges against him, is a longtime and close supporter of Obama. Rezko provided significant funding for Obama’s initial political campaigns. Even after it became known that he was the subject of corruption investigations, Senator Obama entered into real estate dealings with him that even the Senator has described as ‘boneheaded.’ Hillary is never going to talk about Rezko, she has Whitewater. There’s been little sustained interest by our media or political elites in Obama’s evolving story on his connections to this thoroughly corrupt individual.
On a related issue, how many in the public know that the Federal Election Commission (FEC), the agency charged with policing our campaign finance system is shut down because Republicans and Democrats can’t agree on whom to appoint to run it. In a presidential election year, the key agency charged with policing the campaign finance system is on life support and is unable to issue decisions or levy fines. Isn’t this convenient for all the presidential candidates (and for all the candidates for federal office – such as the entire House and one-third of the Senate)!
We’ve filed FEC complaints concerning both Hillary Clinton and John McCain. I’m sure both are happy that the FEC impasse insures that not much will be done on these or other pending issues until well after the election.
And then there’s the issue of judges. With the filibuster and other tactics, the refusal by Senate liberals to consider judicial nominations for up-or-down Senate votes has been a constitutional abomination throughout the entire Bush presidency. It is especially egregious during this election year, as 17 judicial emergencies created by vacancies in various courts are allowed to fester. One would think there might be more focus on the Senate’s role in all this, since the leading presidential candidates this year are U.S. Senators.
I’ve only scratched the surface of issues that deserve more coverage by the media during this election year. Corruption, judicial emergencies, and the collapse of the rule of law in campaign finance are important enough…
I learned much from the discussion that followed and I hope you’re able to view it on C-Span (and a video may eventually appear on our site at www.judicialwatch.org).
Activist Court Out of Control in California
This week, a bare majority of the California Supreme Court, in an audacious political power grab, usurped the democratic process by redefining marriage. The laws of this nation rely on the proper functioning of the courts, including a proper balance of powers, and the judiciary’s ability to demonstrate restraint. This opinion undermines the rule of law. I’m sure polygamists and other "polyamorists" will take solace in this activist and radical ruling because, if its logic is followed, it will be difficult to keep marriage legally limited to only two people.
Judicial Watch filed an amicus brief with the California Supreme Court that asked it to uphold the traditional definition of marriage. The brief, available here, noted that "judges are not free to rewrite statutes to say what they would like, or what they believe to be better social policy."
What next? Pro-family activists hope that voters will overturn the ruling through a citizens’ initiative likely to be on the ballot in November. In the meantime, initiative supporters will ask the court to stay the ruling until the voters have a say in November. As one activist told The Washington Times, "it would be very chaotic and to no one’s benefit to redefine marriage for only four months, or over the summertime. They would be better off to just let it go to a vote of the people."
Given that the California Supreme Court cavalierly overruled the will of the people with this latest ruling, I’m not hopeful they’ll bother to defer to the democratic process and allow such a stay.
This whole fight highlights the importance of putting strict constructionists on the bench, even in the state courts. (By the way, for those of you who think Republicans can always be trusted to get this issue right, Republican governors appointed six of the seven members of the California Supreme Court. For example, former Republican Governor Pete Wilson appointed Chief Justice Ron George, who authored the majority opinion.)
Until next week…
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