Best courts money can buy
By Jim Hightower
When corporate executives needed a political favor, they used to run to Congress. Now they can also run to the courthouse.
Over the years, corporate chieftains and their political henchmen have steadily ensconced reliable laissez-faire ideologues in hundreds of federal judgeships, quietly creating a corporate-friendly path for moving their litigation all the way from the district level through the Supreme Court.
For example, in its effort to scuttle President Barack Obama’s health-care reform, the right wing has gone court shopping. They’ve filed their cases in the courts of judges who are known to be ideologically hostile to government regulation of health care corporations.
Take U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson in Virginia. On Dec. 13, he ruled that a key provision of the new law is unconstitutional. His decision is at odds with 14 other federal judges who’d dismissed similar challenges. He had to resort to twisted reasoning to reach his verdict and keep the right wing’s flawed case moving.
Peek under Hudson’s judicial robe and you’ll find a naked partisan with a long career in hard-right Republican politics. A prot g of Ronald Reagan and his detestable attorney general Ed Meese, Hudson ran unsuccessfully for a Virginia congressional seat in 1991. As consolation, he got two GOP political appointments in the state before George W. Bush put him on the federal bench in 2002.
Even today, as he sits in judgment of politically motivated cases, Hudson continues to draw an annual income as an owner of a Republican political consulting firm. One of the firm’s successful clients in 2009 was Ken Cuccinelli, just elected as Virginia’s attorney general. And Ken just happens to be the official who filed the right wing’s case against Obama’s health-care reform in Judge Hudson’s court.
Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer and public speaker. He’s also editor of the populist newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown. Distributed by OtherWords, a project of the Institute for Policy Studies.