Politics & Policy

Bench Brawl

The courts are the one thing the Left agrees on.

Ralph Neas is at it again. Armed with an overflowing treasure chest of donations from the Hollywood Left, union bosses, and trial lawyers, People for the American Way president Ralph Neas is orchestrating the activities of more than 10,000 Democratic attorneys in battleground states. Using the coalition of leftist organizations brought together through years of trench warfare over judicial nominations and a database of attorneys, Neas is working to successfully accuse Republicans of suppressing voters.

The lawsuits in Florida have already begun. With 2,000 lawyers dispatched to that state alone, this was certainly bound to happen. Nine lawsuits have been filed so far with claims ranging from minority-voter disenfranchisement to provisional-ballot-count issues.

The PFAW program is charmingly named “Election Protection,” and encompasses a strategy far beyond legal battles. But clearly the legal fight is the primary focus. In typical Ralph Neas fashion, he has sent out a missive to the media describing the lofty and noble goals of the program. By sending out these lengthy tomes, Neas not only satisfies his own ego-reward need, but also positions himself as the go-to guy for all reporters to get their obligatory quotes for the avalanche of election-fraud stories to come.

Lest you believe that this is yet another dismissible leftist, bear in mind that Neas is responsible for the strategy behind the defeat of Robert Bork’s nomination to the Supreme Court and the subsequent battle against Clarence Thomas. He has continued to ply his trade in the nominations battle by pulling the trigger on the use of the filibuster against judicial nominees–which had never been deployed against a judicial nominee until quite recently, despite leftist claims to the contrary.

If the protection of civil rights was truly the goal of this flurry of PFAW activity, there would be little reason for concern. But this is a well-funded, fully staffed thumb on the scales to tilt the election results in favor of John Kerry. They are pulling out the stops for one reason: the courts.

The Left doesn’t agree on much. They are fractured between pro-war and anti-war activists, school-choice liberators and teachers unions, gay-marriage advocates and civil-union supporters, and on. But the one thing they do agree on is the courts. The courts are the one place they can get their agenda through if judicial activists are in place to enable them.

With the stroke of a pen, the awesome coercive power of the federal bench can undo whatever legislative or electoral results the Left doesn’t agree with, so long as they have federal judges on the bench who believe in a “living Constitution.” Look at any issue and it becomes pretty clear that it will start or end up in the courts. From gay marriage to property rights, abortion to national security, the federal courts pretty much have the final say for good or evil.

The ideological litmus test imposed on judicial nominees by Senators Charles Schumer, Ted Kennedy, Pat Leahy, Hillary Clinton, Tom Daschle, and others is nothing more than an instrument with which to create an alternative legislative body via the federal bench. If the judge doesn’t agree with their extreme leftist philosophy and they can make the public-relations case with a straight face, then that poor nominee will be stuck in a process akin to purgatory with a one-way ticket to a filibuster.

The election of John Kerry is critical to Ralph Neas and his ilk so that they can stack the bench and remake the culture. And it is the worst-kept secret in Washington that the next administration could pick anywhere from two to four U.S. Supreme Court Justices. The hospitalization of Chief Justice Rehnquist this past weekend was a clear reminder that a Supreme Court battle could occur at any time.

When Neas isn’t litigating to block minority children from participating in school-choice voucher programs, he is in the courtroom trying to make the Internet a safe haven for pornographers and pedophiles. But in the past few months, his organization’s considerable resources have been focused on nothing less than executing a legal coup d’etat if the opportunity presents itself.

Whether the election is close on Tuesday or not, there can be no doubt that these lawyers will litigate–how much of a frenzy depends on the point spread. Make no mistake, though, that even if there is a landslide for President Bush, the PFAW crowd will not slink away to lick their wounds. They will immediately turn to Plan B, which, depending upon the circumstances, may consist of railing against the electoral college, continuing to question the legitimacy of the Bush administration, or launching a series of impeachment charges.

And they will continue to be well funded even in these efforts. Just in time for the mother of all political battles: a Supreme Court nomination.

Kay R. Daly is president of the Coalition for a Fair Judiciary.


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