Friday, September 25, 2015

A look at Sen. Ted Cruz's picks for Supreme Court

Should Sen. Ted Cruz win the presidency, one of his most important powers will likely be nominating Supreme Court Justices.

Four justices have already passed the age of 75.

So what kind of Supreme Court would Cruz give us?

He’s made that clear in the last two weeks.

Speaking to the conservative Eagle Forum in St. Louis, he said the first President Bush should have named Edith Jones instead of David Souter and the second President Bush should have named Mike Luttig instead of John Roberts.

Obamacare would have been voided three years ago, Cruz said, and we wouldn’t have same-sex marriage.

I don’t know much about Luttig, whom Cruz called a “rock-ribbed conservative.”

But I do know a fair amount about Jones, an Alamo Heights girl who grew up to be a very controversial justice on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Back in 1989, shortly before the first President Bush considered her for the Supreme Court, she presided over a panel hearing an appeal on a sexual harassment case.

The lawyer for the plaintiff laid out a brutal set of actions against a woman working in a paper plant.

Her supervisor pinched her buttocks with pliers and tried to put his hands in her back pockets.

More than 30 pornographic notes were put in her locker.

A co-worker fondled her breast and aimed a high-pressure hose between her legs.

When the lawyer said the woman "was subjected to virtually every type of sexual harassment imaginable, "Jones responded: "Except rape or any serious proposition or any action in which she felt endangered or threatened."

When the attorney mentioned that "one of the guys pinched her breast," Jones said, "Well, he apologized."

According to the Houston Chronicle, witnesses said "gasps could be heard from the courtroom gallery."

In 2007 Jones would head up an investigation into allegations that federal Judge Sam Kent in Galveston had abused a female employee.

In a summary of the secret investigation, Jones said the employee had complained of “sexual harassment.”

Jones arranged for a plea-bargained punishment of a public reprimand and a 4-month suspension with pay.

“Sexual harassment”?

In fact, the employee complained of repeated physical acts. 

On one occasion, she said Kent pushed her against a wall, put his hand up under her blouse, pushed her bra up and put his mouth on her breast, then forced her head down to his crotch.

That’s not harassment. It’s assault.

Eventually the truth came out and Judge Kent was sentenced to more than two years in a federal prison.

More recently Judge Jones heard an appeal of the notorious Danziger Bridge incident in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

A group of New Orleans police officers, allegedly under the misimpression that two officers had been shot, opened fire with assault rifles on innocent, unarmed African-Americans who just happened to be walking near the bridge.

Two died, four were injured.

Seven officers were convicted and given sentences ranging from six to 65 years in prison.

Jones led a three-judge panel that overturned the conviction.

She ruled last month that anonymous blog postings by prosecutors who were not involved with the case constituted misconduct serious enough to void the trial.

Tellingly, she began her opinion by writing that the police arrived on the scene “amid chaos.”

As with Kent, she mischaracterized the evidence.

It was only the police opening fire that created chaos.

Dissenting was San Antonio Judge Ed Prado, who saw no evidence that the prosecutors’ post had any impact on the trial.

Had the case involved black men shooting police officers, it is difficult to imagine that Edith Brown would have ruled as she did.

Yet that’s the sort of Justice President Cruz seeks.

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