Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Kochs and their ilk work to take over courts, too

Posted By on Wed, Aug 6, 2014 at 10:02 AM

RHONDA WOOD: Nursing home money powered her Arkansas Supreme Court candidacy.
  • RHONDA WOOD: Nursing home money powered her Arkansas Supreme Court candidacy.
The New York Times reports on outside group funding — including the Kochs of course — being used to oust Tennessee judges viewed as too liberal.

This has been and is happening to varying degrees all over the country. What's the point of having corporate-friendly statutes if you run the risk of a judge finding constitutional problems with them?

The movement is creeping into Arkansas. Corporate money helped build a treasury for Republican Rhonda Wood, elected without opposition to the Arkansas Supreme Court. Outside money — still unidentified as to source — helped defeat another candidate for Supreme Court, Tim Cullen, who opposed Robin Wynne. Corporate money — particularly from nursing home magnate Michael Morton and other "tort reform" champions — flowed heavily into Mike Maggio's race for Court of Appeals (before he undid himself) and into the races of a number of circuit judge candidates in Faulkner County (nearly all the successful ones).

Gilbert Baker, the disgraced former senator who has served as bagman for legal reform causes for years, undoubtedly isn't through with his work. After a brief time out of the limelight while various investigations work their way through the system, I expect to see him in the halls of the Capitol again with a checkbook for a 501C4 organization intent on good judicial results.

It's a bad idea to elect judges. But appointment alone isn't a panacea. There's politics in that process, too. And the appointment system is often accompanied, as it is in Tennessee, by judges standing for approval periodically. This once was pro forma. But that was before the Kochs, Chamber of Commerce and others started throwing money around.

Election also leaves judges open to demagogues like Jason Rapert. Unpopular decisions — equal rights for gay people — can cause you trouble. The timid avoid the possibility of recall by ignoring the Constitution or otherwise finding ways to duck their oaths.


Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Favorite

Speaking of...

Comments (2)

Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • UPDATE: Metroplan signs off on waiver for Concrete Gulch

    UPDATE: The Metroplan board has voted with scant opposition to waive the existing six-lane limit on area freeways so that the highway department may build a 10-lane concrete gulch through the heart of Little Rock. Leslie Newell Peacock will be back with more after a while. A grassroots group presented spirited opposition, all ignored.
    • Aug 31, 2016
  • One dead in crash at Bentonville airport

    The pilot of a small plane was killed when his plane crashed into a hangar on takeoff this morning at the Bentonville Municipal Airport, KNWA reports.
    • Aug 31, 2016
  • Debtors' prisons are for kids, too, including in Arkansas

    A new report from the Juvenile Law Center says kids are being incarcerated nationwide for failure to pay juvenile court-related costs — debtors' prison for kids. The system, which exists in Arkansas, is rife with racial disparities and encourages recidivism, the report says.
    • Aug 31, 2016
  • More »

Readers also liked…

Most Shared

  • The South, including Arkansas, is failing poor kids who want to go to college

    The Atlantic has an important perspective on the South's "cycle of failing higher education."  Arkansas stands out for the cost barriers it presents to low-income students.
  • School takeovers erode democracy, target minority communities

    New reporting shows state takeover of schools around the country, including in Little Rock, have disproportionately affected minority communities.
  • The boys on the tracks are back

    A lawsuit filed Thursday in federal court in Little Rock bears notice for its effort to breathe life into the 29-year-old story most familiarly known as the Boys on the Tracks.
  • Arkansas legislator tied to fatal bus crash in Louisiana

    Republican state Rep. David Wallace of Leachville, a current candidate for state Senate, has been identified as the owner of a company that rounded up a group of workers, apparently undocumented aliens, for flood relief work in Louisiana, including one with a poor driving record who was at the wheel in a fatal bus crash on Interstate 10.
  • Dumas: Behind the Obamascare headlines

    Ernest Dumas explains in his Arkansas times column this week how Obamacare's problems can be fixed; why it isn't going away, and, most pertinently, why it's more lucrative for Arkansas to continue to expand the coverage pool, not dream up ways to shrink it.

Most Viewed

  • Arkansas legislator tied to fatal bus crash in Louisiana

    Republican state Rep. David Wallace of Leachville, a current candidate for state Senate, has been identified as the owner of a company that rounded up a group of workers, apparently undocumented aliens, for flood relief work in Louisiana, including one with a poor driving record who was at the wheel in a fatal bus crash on Interstate 10.
  • Legislature subpoenas judge to testify about child custody decisions.

    The Legislative Joint Performance Review Committee has subpoenaed Circuit Judge Patricia James, who handles juvenile cases in Pulaski and Perry County, to testify to explain her child custody decisions. It's another example of a power-mad, out-of-control legislature.
  • The National Anthem and sporting events: Why?

    For your consideration: A New York Times article that delves into the American tradition of playing the national anthem before sporting events.
  • Former Arkansan, Noelle Nikpour, finishes last in Florida congressional primary

    Noelle Nikpour, a sometime-Republican commentator on cable TV and a former Little Rock resident, got 1 percent of the vote for a last-place finish in a six-way Republican primary race for Congress from Florida's 18th District.
  • Leadership changes announced at DHS

    I've been asking DHS for two days about reports that Dawn Stehle was being elevated at DHS to the deputy director's job being vacated by Mark White. The non-response was telling. The news release is even more telling of the unhappy Republicans that tipped me on this change in the first place.

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

 

© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation