Recently, the federal judiciary has seemed like justice turned upside down

 “In the popular television series Stranger Things, the “upside down” describes a parallel dimension containing a distorted version of our world. (See Stranger Things, Netflix 2022). Recently, Florida has seemed like a First Amendment upside down. Normally, the First Amendment bars the state from burdening speech, while private actors may burden speech freely. But in Florida, the First Amendment apparently bars private actors from burdening speech, while the state may burden speech freely.”

U.S. District Judge Mark Walker

So goes the opening paragraph of the ruling by the referenced judge enjoining the enforcement of a law recently passed by Florida’s elected representatives prohibiting employers from imposing political indoctrination on their employees.

I practiced before federal court judges including the Supreme Court Justices and respect almost all of them, including Democrat appointees. When I saw a news account quoting this language, I assumed it must be from a state court judge, not a federal court judge.

Most federal court judges could make a multiple of their government salary in private practice. But they instead chose to serve the people. Yes, they get a lot of butt-kissing and big offices and attractive clerks and everybody is required to stand up and be extra nice to them when they enter the courtroom (imagine if your subordinates had to do that with you!) and they get essentially full pay from the date they go part time, which is whenever they choose, to the day they die but, still, they always seemed a fair bunch more concerned about dispensing justice than imposing politics.

This one, like most of the federal judges, holds impeccable credentials. Well, OK, he’s not exactly Harvard Law but, these days, neither is Harvard Law. He was University of Florida Law School. Even so, he was appointed for life by President Barack Obama, and at age 54 there’s a lot of that life remaining. And in his district, he’s the Chief Judge, though that’s just an administrative job, not a job with any power. In any event, he’s not a measly state judge with shady night law school credentials who stands for reelection every few years, though he was indeed a state court judge before Obama appointed him to the federal bench. 

Put aside whether the Florida law is Constitutional or not. I can think of arguments on both sides. What makes me shake my head is the judge’s opening paragraph quoted above.

He begins by referencing a television series (one with which I’m glad to say I’m not acquainted) where he says there’s “a distorted version of our world.” He goes on to suggest that the Republican governor and legislature of Florida have adopted such a distorted view, with the argumentative and inflammatory contention that “Florida has seemed like a First Amendment upside down.”

This language is inappropriate in a judicial ruling. First, he tells us what things have “seemed” to him. But the job of a judge is not to tell us what things have “seemed” to him; the job of a judge is to make findings of fact and conclusions of law. This judge’s reference to what “seems” to him, is most unseemly – it’s irrelevant and grossly unprofessional. It’s just a political potshot coming from a person abusing his position who should, and is obligated to, know better.

Then there’s the judge’s reference to what Florida has been doing “recently.” But what Florida has been doing “recently” as a general matter is not at issue in this case. What’s at issue is what Florida did in this particular statute. Other things that Florida may or may not have done recently (things the judge alludes to but does not identify) are simply irrelevant to whether this particular statute is Constitutional.

This judge makes a habit of gratuitous, inflammatory remarks. In a case earlier this year, he invalidated a Florida law that limited the use of ballot drop boxes. In doing so, he took another political potshot in remarking “For the past 20 years, the majority in the Florida Legislature has attacked the voting rights of its Black constituents.”

Huh? Stuff from 20 years ago is not at issue in his case. In any event, is he suggesting that Blacks are uniquely dependent on ballot drop boxes?

Yes, he is suggesting that, but I doubt he believes it. What he believes is that he’s a Democrat politician – and one with a great wit! – who, like many other Democrats, can never miss an opportunity to call a political adversary a racist.

Both of these rulings are now on appeal to an appellate court that is less biased, less political and less incendiary.

As I mentioned at the outset, I practiced before federal court judges and I have tremendous respect for almost all of them. As for this one, he may have missed his calling as a writer for an obscure Netflix show, or perhaps as a speechwirter for the person he apparently views as his boss.

11 thoughts on “Recently, the federal judiciary has seemed like justice turned upside down

  1. This too is very reminiscent of the late Andrew Breitbart’s adage that politics is downstream of culture.

    Unfortunately for this Obama appointed political hack judge, Judge Walker is using popular culture (Stranger Things) in a court case that should only concern provable facts.

    Judge Walker ought to hang up the robe and retire the gavel, and run for political office if he references NetFlix series in his decisions rather than the US Constitution, federal statutes, and settled case law.

    Pick one Walker … politics or the judiciary. But he cannot have both.

    He is illustrative of all leftist progtards who greedily eat their cakes, yet still want to have their cakes too.

    This is a proverbial slippery slope for US judges. At this rate the judiciary will supplant its law books with streaming video episodes of Matlock and Ally McBeal to decide cases.

    So goes our republic … buy more guns, buy more ammo. Vote out all the Democrats.

    • Breitbart should have continued to note that law is downstream from politics. It has been this way ever since Aeschylus depicted the first 12-person jury trial as being decided by the first justice, the goddess Athena, who decided in favor of Orestes, who had murdered his mother, because the goddess sided with the man in his prosecution by the Furies (Athena having had no mother, being born straight out of the forehead of Zeus). Aeschylus was trying to account for male dominance in the politics and law of Athens.

      Although some manifestations of popular culture, shows such as “Law and Order,” have tried to foster the idea of The Law being a “pure” and politically neutral business based upon a broadly accepted constitutional framework, we live in a world in which almost every significant legal ruling is accompanied by the announcement that the judge or court was either appointed by, say, Obama or Trump, or elected by either a conservative or liberal electorate. It’s all essentially partisan. A large portion of the culture seeks an end to The Constitution, as do its lawyers and judges, and there is no longer any broad-based consensus about ethical and moral matters. Christian culture being moribund, the culture is fractured, and so is the law.

      At best, law has always been an effort to prevent or forestall violent conflict, and has had its triumphs and its failures. Currently, it’s headed for failure, as I see it. So I agree, it’s time to buy guns and ammo before the entire electoral system collapses utterly.

      • Yes … agreed 110%.

        CULTURE -> -> -> Politics -> -> -> law

        Democrat progs will still occasionally wave around the Constitution when it suits them. Like when Pelosi repeatedly invoked the Constitution while impeaching Orange Man Bad, even on the flimsiest of evidence.

        Anyways … if Andrew Breitbart was still alive he may have very well threaded that needle with the law.

        I think Breitbart’s strategy was for conservatives, Constitutionalists, patriots, Christians, Republicans, etc., to reclaim the cultural front by taking back large swaths of mass media, popular culture, and academia in order to change the political environment.

        Most people’s eyes will glaze over if some smart conservative from the Heritage Foundation puts out highly detailed wonky talking points as to why lower taxes and less government is best for America. But if a smart and skilled conservative politician can make the same point to the masses by instead using a reference to “The Addams Family” or, perhaps using the Beatles’ song “Taxman” when it comes to lower taxes and less government, then many more people will pay attention and connect with the message.

        Obviously … this Judge Walker character is trying to make a political name for himself by injecting popular culture into his decision. But this corrodes the notion of an independent judiciary in which it’s symbol Lady Justice is blind. It’s hard to see how the Goddess of Justice would watch a NetFlix series when she is blindfolded.

        Judges need to stay in their own lane … leave the politicking to politicians.

  2. Pingback: assault on many fronts: DOJ, climate, media, judiciary, … wow

  3. Got favorable and unfavorable rulings from federal judges, including military judges, over the years, but never thought rulings were unfair or unsupported by some of the law or some of the facts. But that was 10-15 years ago. Elected state court judges? Not so good, not so bright in many cases, and at least one unethical and corrupt.

  4. Judge Walker is a victim too. He has been stricken with the dreaded Black Robe Disease, whereby donning a black robe creates a delusion that the wearer is much smarter, wiser and more amusing than before he put it on. There is no known cure.

  5. This “syndrome” reminds me of current high schoolers where all it takes is one small clique with no redeeming social behaviors to rub off on all the popular-wannabes. Some people never grow-up, including judges. I think that’s where our deep state was fomented.

  6. Well the Obama appointed Judge that oversaw the Gen. Flynn case did similar and there have4 been a plethora of similar admonishments in many of the January 6th trials. Today it came out that Inspector General Horowitz is in on the seizure of a Senator’s phone by the FBI while he is on vacation. YOUR institution is corrupted hugely!

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