Thursday, January 06, 2005

So did you see this L.A. Times story?

Business Lobby to Get Behind Judicial Bids

A powerful business lobby is preparing a multimillion-dollar campaign to aid the White House in its quest to win approval for conservative judges, a move that could transform the ideological battles over the federal judiciary and the Supreme Court....

The shift puts the business lobby on the same side as social conservatives....

The strategy's engineer is former Michigan Gov. John Engler, a longtime friend of President Bush who recently took the helm of the National Assn. of Manufacturers.

Engler said in an interview Wednesday that his organization would make confirmation of judicial nominees a top priority for the first time — providing money and a recently honed ability to stir grass-roots action nationwide. The group plans to spend millions of dollars on the campaign...

The head of People for the American Way says that the NAM's decision to side with far-right judges isn't going to sit well with some member businesses that, understandably, want customers across the political spectrum.

But that's only one aspect of what's going on here, and I don't think it's the most important one. John Engler was anti-abortion when he was governor of Michigan, but that doesn't seem to be what's on his mind now:

He said federal judicial confirmation debates are important to business, particularly because of judges' roles in civil liability cases.

"There has been too much of a tendency in the past to cast these judgeship battles as a social debate about abortion or gay rights. In fact, there are very few of those cases in contrast to those dealing with the tort system and the rights of individuals and companies," Engler said.

This is what the Republican revolution has really been about all along -- plutocrats financing candidates (and think tanks) to press hot-button issues such as abortion and gay rights, with the hope that anti-gay, anti-abortion candidates will be elected because those candidates tend to be the most pro-business.

Something else stinks about this. If you're a federal judge and you know that you got confirmed partly as the result of an expensive ad campaign by big business, don't you owe? This campaign won't make the federal bench as corrupt as the Texas judiciary -- not by a long shot -- but it does introduce a good bit of Texas-style sleaze (Texas judges regularly raise large sums of money for their election campaigns from those who are likely to appear before them in court).

During the 1990s, Bill Clinton's critics liked to suggest that he brought the values of bumpkin shitkickers to Washington. But in this case, it's a friend of Bush who's doing that, on behalf of Bush's nominees.

(L.A. Times story also available at Yahoo News.)

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