Billionaire George Soros Trying To Stack the Courts, Critics Say

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    Jun 27, 2011 9:29 PM GMT
    By Maxim Lott, June 27, 2011
    http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/06/27/critics-say-soros-trying-to-stack-courts/?test=latestnews

    Billionaire George Soros spends tens of millions each year supporting a range of liberal social and political causes, from drug legalization to immigration reform to gay marriage to abolishing the death penalty.

    But a less well-known Soros priority -- replacing elections for judges with selection-by-committee -- now has critics accusing him of trying to stack the courts.

    Most non-federal judges around the country are selected by voters in elections. But some states use a process called “merit selection” in which a committee – often made up of lawyers – appoints judges to the bench instead.

    Soros has spent several million dollars in the past decade in an attempt to get more states to scrap elections and adopt the merit method. Supporters say it would allow judges to focus on interpreting the law rather than on raising campaign funds and winning elections.

    “Merit selection would end the money race and get judges out of the fundraising business,” Lynn Marks, executive director of Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts -- a group that has received money from Soros’ Open Society Institute -- told FoxNews.com.

    But critics say that if judges are picked by committee -- often, a committee of lawyers -- that will give left-wing judges the upper hand.

    “The left can’t get their agenda through the legislatures anymore … so they think they can get their agenda through by taking over the courts,” attorney Colleen Pero, author of a new report titled "Hijacking Justice," told FoxNews.com.

    Pero’s report found that Soros, through his Open Society Institute fund, has given $45 million over the last decade to “a campaign to reshape the judiciary.” But that number is hotly contested by Justice at Stake, the group that got the most Soros money.

    “It’s a horrendously bogus distortion of numbers,” Charlie Hall, a spokesman for Justice at Stake, told FoxNews.com. Hall said the $45 million figure included groups that dealt with legal issues but had no position on merit selection. He added that he could only identify $2 million from Soros that went to groups that actively support replacing elections with “merit selection.”

    In an analysis of the Open Society Institute's tax returns from the last ten years, FoxNews.com found more than $5 million was explicitly earmarked for projects about either "merit selection" or "judicial selection."

    For example, OSI reported giving $90,000 to Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts in 2007 to "expand and grow a coalition in support of merit selection." It also reported giving $50,000 to Justice at Stake in 2006 to support "public education regarding merit selection."

    OSI gave another $7 million-plus to Justice at Stake, or to partner organizations with specific directions to support JAS's activities.

    Some recipients of Soros' money were eager to defend “merit selection,” and said they only wished Soros would give more money to the cause. "We are very grateful for their support of our efforts," Marks said. Her group received more than $500,000 over the last decade, but has not received money from OSI since 2008.

    Elections, she added, discourage competent lawyers from becoming judges just because they aren’t good politicians. “They don't put their name in for nominations because they think they don't have the political connections or access to dollars.”

    And judges, she said, should be kept apart from political forces. “Judges should resolve disputes based on evidence -- they're not supposed to be responsive to public pressure.”

    But Pero pointed to a study by prominent law professors that found elected judges were, if anything, more independent and took on larger workloads than judges appointed by committee.

    "We began this project with the assumption that the data would demonstrate that appointed judges are better than elected judges," the authors note, adding that after looking at their result: "It may be that elected judges are, indeed, superior to appointed judges."

    And, Pero says, “merit selection” is inherently undemocratic.

    "It would be a handful lawyers who would select judges… with elections, the people actually have a say."

    Marks said it is wrong to call the merit selection un-democratic.

    "Merit selection requires a change in the Constitution, so a bill must... go before the public. So when people say, ‘oh, you're changing the way we vote’ -- yes, but only if the people want to change the way we vote."
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    Jun 27, 2011 10:08 PM GMT
    we have the finest government money can buy
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    Jun 27, 2011 10:14 PM GMT
    LOL. The right has been engaged in a 40 year effort to remake the courts, with good success for them/bad for the American people.

    Typical right-wing horseshit. Accuse your opponent of the very thing you're doing. icon_rolleyes.gif
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    Jun 27, 2011 10:52 PM GMT
    Can somebody explain to me what the left wing agenda is? Also, what is the right wing agenda? Or the gay agenda?

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    Jun 27, 2011 10:59 PM GMT
    Balljunkie said Or the gay agenda?


    A Crate & Barrel in every town and Glee televised five nights a week.
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    Jun 27, 2011 11:01 PM GMT
    Iceblink said
    Balljunkie said Or the gay agenda?


    A Crate & Barrel in every town and Glee televised five nights a week.


    Lol.
  • calibro

    Posts: 8888

    Jun 27, 2011 11:12 PM GMT
    as opposed to the Koch brothers?
  • EricLA

    Posts: 3461

    Jun 27, 2011 11:22 PM GMT
    southbeach1500 said
    calibro saidas opposed to the Koch brothers?


    Well, the difference is Soros = Good, Koch = Bad.

    It doesn't matter how the liberals get their agenda implemented, because their goal is noble and worthy.


    Irony can be pretty ironic sometimes. Your final quote can just as easily turned right back at you. I'm a former Republican. I'd rather live in a liberal world than a conservative one any day. Until the moderates reclaim the Republican party from the radicals, evangelical and corporate, I won't be going back any time soon.
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    Jun 27, 2011 11:28 PM GMT
    they're both corporately-owned parties with billionaires running the show on either side of the aisle. They both seek to fuck you all over for the benefit of said billionaires and multinational corporations and banks.

    End of story.

    Republicans and Democrats are both controlled by the SAME interests. It doesn't matter, and the back and forth bickering about which party is better is like arguing which wart on your foot is 'prettier.' In the end, it's still a wart, and it's still ugly.

    The only question you need to ask yourself is this: are you really so deluded that you can continue to support EITHER party?
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    Jun 27, 2011 11:32 PM GMT
    EricLA saidIrony can be pretty ironic sometimes. Your final quote can just as easily turned right back at you. I'm a former Republican. I'd rather live in a liberal world than a conservative one any day. Until the moderates reclaim the Republican party from the radicals, evangelical and corporate, I won't be going back any time soon.

    Yes, regarding the irony, and your quote can also easily be turned back at you as well. I have voted for moderate Democrats, but they have been cast aside by their own party. Until the moderates reclaim the Democratic Party from the radicals, i.e. the likes of Reid, Pelosi, and Obama, I won't be voting their way any time soon..
  • GQjock

    Posts: 11649

    Jun 27, 2011 11:41 PM GMT
    ......now has critics accusing him of trying to stack the courts.

    Holy Crap SoCal ....You finally lost what little mind you had left

    George Soros is stacking the Courts???? George Soros????
    Are you freaking kidding me???

    This on the heels of a five to four decision that struck down an Arizona law that had matching funds in an election where private funds make an election lopsided

    Citizens United?

    Striking down the Walmart gender law suit because they are TOO BIG TO SUE???????

    and when after ... how many years has Obama been in office and we still have 144 vacacies on the Federal Court?????


    Earth to SoCal ..... there's nothing to Stack ... THEY'RE ALREADY STACKED
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    Jun 27, 2011 11:47 PM GMT
    Earth to GQJock - do you know the difference between providing an article for discussion and being its author? Do you also know how to substantively discuss the specific points in the article? Do you know that if you desire to challenge the article, you can challenge the specific points in the article, and/or challenge the logic in its conclusion based on the points?
  • Webster666

    Posts: 9222

    Jun 27, 2011 11:52 PM GMT
    Poor old George Soros.
    The stupid Republicans have blamed him for everything that they're against.
    He's their favorite whipping boy.
    It's just more bullshit.
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    Jun 28, 2011 12:03 AM GMT
    southbeach1500 said
    EricLA saidI'd rather live in a liberal world than a conservative one any day.


    You're living in one right now here in the USA.

    A destroyed economy, 20%+ unemployment, 4% (and accelerating) inflation, Federal mandates telling you what kind of light bulbs you aren't allowed to purchase....

    Hope you're enjoying it.


    Bush tanked the economy, the swan song of 40+ years of deregulation. Republicans refuse to do anything to combat unemployment despite running on "jobs, jobs, jobs." Lack if inflation - under Greenspan in particular - served to inflate the housing and credit bubbles. And who gives a shit what kind of light bulbs you buy. icon_rolleyes.gif
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    Jun 28, 2011 12:07 AM GMT
    MeOhMy saidthey're both corporately-owned parties with billionaires running the show on either side of the aisle. They both seek to fuck you all over for the benefit of said billionaires and multinational corporations and banks.

    End of story.

    Republicans and Democrats are both controlled by the SAME interests. It doesn't matter, and the back and forth bickering about which party is better is like arguing which wart on your foot is 'prettier.' In the end, it's still a wart, and it's still ugly.

    The only question you need to ask yourself is this: are you really so deluded that you can continue to support EITHER party?


    I agree that our political system was long ago captured by business elites, but there are individuals within each party (more in the Dem column) that do resist that and, in some cases, manage to make things better for those in need.

    Short of a revolution, unlikely in the US case, I feel obligated to get whatever incremental change I can.
  • GQjock

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    Jun 28, 2011 12:10 AM GMT
    socalfitness saidEarth to GQJock - do you know the difference between providing an article for discussion and being its author? Do you also know how to substantively discuss the specific points in the article? Do you know that if you desire to challenge the article, you can challenge the specific points in the article, and/or challenge the logic in its conclusion based on the points?

    Com-on even you has to realize that to say that the courts are being stacked by liberal judges is not dealing with reality
    The majority of federal court placements have been done by republican Presidents ... period and the Circuit Courts are by and large republican strongholds
    There is absolutely no denying that point
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    Jun 28, 2011 12:13 AM GMT
    socalfitness said“The left can’t get their agenda through the legislatures anymore … so they think they can get their agenda through by taking over the courts,” attorney Colleen Pero, author of a new report titled "Hijacking Justice," told FoxNews.com.


    The recent decision by the New York legislature to legalize gay marriage is a clear counterexample to Ms. Pero's claim.

    But it's a curious argument to be making against this initiative, anyway. Cases having any sort of significant impact for the left (or right) AGENDA inevitably end up in federal court anyway, don't they? Which means they are ultimately decided by Federal judges, who are already appointed, not elected. So aren't her concerns rather moot?

    Then again, given that Ms. Pero herself has held the position of campaign manager for a conservative judge's re-election, perhaps she is just looking out for her own interests, e.g. future job prospects.
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    Jun 28, 2011 12:16 AM GMT
    The whole point about merit selection bypassing the elective process is faulty. Here's one proposal for merit selection (PA)
    http://judgesonmerit.org/about-this-campaign/what-is-merit-selection/
    A hybrid system that combines the best features of appointive and elective systems and adds a new component – an independent, bipartisan citizens’ nominating commission that screens and evaluates potential candidates for the bench.

    The selection process has four steps:

    - screening and evaluation by a citizens’ nominating commission that recommends the most qualified candidates to the governor;
    - nomination by the governor of a candidate from the commission’s list;
    - confirmation by the senate; and
    - retention in a nonpartisan yes-no vote by the public after an initial term of four years on the bench (and every ten years thereafter).


    Other than step 1, politics and elections play major roles in who gets to be judge. The governor could potentially choose all R or D judge candidates, the senate could confirm all R or D judges. To call this "the left taking over the courts," one has to say the the right could easily do the same with the same process.

    Committees will be made up of lawyers and non-lawyers. The people do have a say who gets to be retained.
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    Jun 28, 2011 12:22 AM GMT
    http://www.moderncourts.org/Advocacy/judicial_selection/why.html
    Proponents of judicial elections believe that they are appropriate to our democratic method of government. In fact, many criticize the very concept of merit selection as fundamentally flawed and elitist. Given the fact that we adhere mostly to a representative form of government, such a reaction is understandable. It is also a misconception.

    Some opponents of merit selection argue that it removes from the people the right to elect their judicial representatives. This language begs a very fundamental question: Under our system of government, are judges truly "representatives," in the sense that members of the legislative and executive branches are? The legislative branch is certainly designed to represent specific constituencies; to a lesser degree, the executive performs a similar function. But judges, who must apply impartially the laws created by the other two branches—laws that affect opposing constituencies—are expected to remain above the fray. Canons of judicial ethics require them to remain objective, free of political influences, and unfettered by financial concerns.

    Yet, what does the process of judicial election demand? It demands a campaign, usually partisan, which in turn demands that the candidate raise campaign funds—funds that are most likely to be contributed by lawyers who may later appear before the judge. Although judges in New York are barred from "knowing" the identity of their contributors, as a practical matter, it often is virtually impossible for them not to know. In other states, the rules (or at least their enforcement) are less stringent yet: Judges actively campaign, make promises regarding how they will rule in particular types of cases, and actively solicit the support of interest groups.

    Opponents of merit selection argue that elections give the people a voice.
    However, candidates often do not run in primaries, but are chosen via nominating conventions. As a practical matter, the nominating conventions generally serve as mere rubber stamps for the edicts of the local party leadership. "The people" never really have a choice, because the party's [sole] candidate is predetermined well in advance of the election. Moreover, New York permits cross-endorsements—deals made between the political parties which permit an unusual kind of partisan horse-trading. For example, if a particularly strong Republican judge, with the advantage of incumbency, intends to run for re-election in a particular county, that county's Democratic leadership may decide to "cross-endorse" the Republican candidate, in exchange for a similar consideration in a future race. In the case of cross-endorsements, one candidate sometimes appears on the ballot line of every party—thus depriving voters of even the limited choice based on party affiliation.

    In addition, studies repeatedly show that the voting public is far less knowledgeable about its judicial candidates than it is about candidates for other offices—indeed, many don't even realize that their state and local judges are elected, instead confusing them with appointed federal judges. Even when voters do realize that their judges are elected, the odds that they know who their incumbent judges—much less their opposing candidates—are tend to be very slim. Voter turnout also tends to be especially low for judicial elections. None of these phenomena are new, nor are they confined to New York.

    Finally, while opponents of merit selection often argue that it reduces diversity on the bench, the opposite is usually true. New York City is unusual: It has a population of incredible ethnic diversity, strong political bases of women and minorities, and, in some respects, a more active electorate than is perhaps present elsewhere. Outside of the city, however, election of women and minorities to the bench—particularly at the Supreme Court level—is much more difficult.

    Merit selection—particularly the three-step version—addresses each of these concerns. It eliminates the role of money and significantly reduces the role of politics in judicial selection, and it negates the possibility of conflicts of interest that arise when a campaign contributor (whether lawyer or client) appears before the judge. It provides for selection of highly-qualified judges by representatives of diverse groups of people - legal professionals, members of government, and ordinary citizens, including those who can provide the valuable "outsider's" view of the non-lawyer. Finally, it promotes diversity, which is healthy not only for society generally but for all users of the justice system - judges, lawyers, litigants, witnesses, victims.

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    Jun 28, 2011 12:24 AM GMT
    GQjock said
    socalfitness saidEarth to GQJock - do you know the difference between providing an article for discussion and being its author? Do you also know how to substantively discuss the specific points in the article? Do you know that if you desire to challenge the article, you can challenge the specific points in the article, and/or challenge the logic in its conclusion based on the points?

    Com-on even you has to realize that to say that the courts are being stacked by liberal judges is not dealing with reality
    The majority of federal court placements have been done by republican Presidents ... period and the Circuit Courts are by and large republican strongholds
    There is absolutely no denying that point


    Well, remember, even judges appointed by Republican presidents are labeled liberal, "activist" judges when they make decisions perceived as liberal. Case in point: Judge John E. Jones III, a Bush appointee, who ruled that "intelligent design" was just creationism repackaged, was therefore religious in nature and could not be taught in public school science class.
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    Jun 28, 2011 12:39 AM GMT
    MenschPress saidCases having any sort of significant impact for the left (or right) AGENDA inevitably end up in federal court anyway, don't they? Which means they are ultimately decided by Federal judges, who are already appointed, not elected.


    Explains the delay and secret holds in confirming (or just bringing them up for confirmation) candidates in the Senate...at least with the current rate of confirmations.icon_lol.gif

    http://www.thegrio.com/politics/obama-getting-fewer-judges-confirmed-than-nixon.php

    http://www.oregonlive.com/news/oregonian/david_sarasohn/index.ssf/2011/06/reasons_for_someone_to_take_th.htmlIn May, Leahy noted that when Bill Clinton left the White House, the federal court vacancy rate was 10 percent — for pretty much the same reason it’s that high now. At the end of George W. Bush’s time, the vacancy rate dropped to 4 percent, with the much-hyped, kiss-a-pinkie “Gang of 14” pledge that judicial filibusters would in the future be limited to “extraordinary circumstances.”

    Apparently, the entire Obama administration has been an “extraordinary circumstance.” As Leahy pointed out, in Bush’s first two years, 74 percent of his nominees were confirmed. Obama’s rate fell to 58 percent, even with a heavily (but not filibuster-proof) Democratic Senate. “While it took Reagan an average of 114 days to see his nominees confirmed,” said Leahy, “Obama’s take almost twice as long.”
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    Jun 28, 2011 12:48 AM GMT
    southbeach1500 said
    Christian73 saidAnd who gives a shit what kind of light bulbs you buy. icon_rolleyes.gif



    The Federal government, apparently, with their incandescent light bulb ban.

    Absurd, isn't it, that the Federal government feels the need to micromanage our lives to such a degree....


    Holy shit! The Federal government is--ulp--governing! Fuck! What next?

    But actually, I see your point. Regulations for lightbulbs but still no regulation of banks, Wall Street, oil corporations. Lightbulbs should be way lower on the list.
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    Jun 28, 2011 12:51 AM GMT
    southbeach1500 said
    Christian73 saidAnd who gives a shit what kind of light bulbs you buy. icon_rolleyes.gif



    The Federal government, apparently, with their incandescent light bulb ban.

    Absurd, isn't it, that the Federal government feels the need to micromanage our lives to such a degree....


    Why must you lie? The law does not ban incandescent light bulbs; it raises the energy efficiency standards for them.

    If you have a problem with that, I assume you also oppose having fuel efficiency standards for cars?
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    Jun 28, 2011 1:24 AM GMT
    MeOhMy saidthey're both corporately-owned parties with billionaires running the show on either side of the aisle. They both seek to fuck you all over for the benefit of said billionaires and multinational corporations and banks.

    End of story.

    Republicans and Democrats are both controlled by the SAME interests. It doesn't matter, and the back and forth bickering about which party is better is like arguing which wart on your foot is 'prettier.' In the end, it's still a wart, and it's still ugly.

    The only question you need to ask yourself is this: are you really so deluded that you can continue to support EITHER party?



    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------



    GREAT POINT !!! if only a viable third party could come to the forefront, but getting past the mainstream media and all the other blocks to it happening, we are basically stuck with the lesser of two evils, which again as you say, is effectively the same evil. KINDA FUCKED UP !!!
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    Jun 28, 2011 1:29 AM GMT
    MenschPress said
    southbeach1500 said
    Christian73 saidAnd who gives a shit what kind of light bulbs you buy. icon_rolleyes.gif



    The Federal government, apparently, with their incandescent light bulb ban.

    Absurd, isn't it, that the Federal government feels the need to micromanage our lives to such a degree....


    Why must you lie? The law does not ban incandescent light bulbs; it raises the energy efficiency standards for them.

    If you have a problem with that, I assume you also oppose having fuel efficiency standards for cars?


    SB clearly doesn't know that science marches on:
    http://www.sustainablebusiness.com/index.cfm/go/news.display/id/22283
    Philips Lighting (NYSE: PHG) is launching a new line of incandescent light bulbs designed to meet federal energy efficiency standards that will take force in the US over the next few years.

    While not as efficient as compact fluorescent or LED bulbs, EcoVantage bulbs will likely appeal to people who are unhappy with the quality of light delivered by the more energy efficient technologies.