A Right-Wing Double Standard

Some on the Right are hailing a court decision in Kansas that will allow candidates running for court seats to talk about their views and responds to questionnaires.  

Bruce Hausknecht, judicial analyst for Focus on the Family Action, said the decision in Kansas is another in a series of victories for free speech in state judicial elections from around the country.

“Judicial candidates who have desired to talk to the voters have been intimidated into silence by the fear of being branded ‘unethical,’ ” he said. “And judicial activists don’t want to talk to voters.”

Hausknecht said it is only activist judges who fear accountability to voters who will not rejoice at this decision.

“Judicial activists hate being ‘smoked out’ by questionnaires and voting guides on their judicial philosophies,” he added, “and they’ve hidden behind bar associations and ethics committees and used ethics canons as smokescreens to keep voters from finding out who they really are.”

The suit was filed by Kansas Judicial Watch after some candidates refused to answer the organization’s questionnaire [PDF] – among the things Judicial Watch wants to know is whether candidates believe

The unborn child is biologically human and alive and that the right to life of human beings should be respected at every stage of their biological development.

When it comes to local judges who hold limited terms, it seems that the Right wants to know all it can about a candidate.  But when it comes to judges being considered for lifetime appointments, the Right seems to be a lot less concerned.    

During the hearings on John Roberts’ nomination, the Right was unified in its belief that he couldn’t and shouldn’t say anything at all

It seems as if Republican senators are more than willing to let Roberts decide for himself when, and if, he’ll answer any of the questions posed to him. Sen. Jon Kyl insisted that “not every question that a senator might think of is legitimate” and went on to declare that “it is not appropriate for a senator to demand a nominee’s view on issues that are likely to come before the court.” Sen. Orrin Hatch sounded a similar theme, saying “Nominees may not be able to answer questions that seek hints, forecasts or previews about how they would rule on particular issues.”

Considering that just about any issue could potentially “come before the court,” it is difficult to imagine just what sort of questions Roberts could answer without violating the Republican members’ vague standard.

The Right added its own voice to the calls for silence, with Concerned Women for America demanding that “senators’ unjustified demands” not be “allowed to subvert the confirmation process … Senators should restrain themselves from demanding comments from Judge Roberts on political issues or potential upcoming cases.”

During his hearings, John Roberts refused to answer more than a hundred questions regarding his views on crucial issues. Perhaps he did so out of fear that his right-wing views would have been, in Hausknecht’s words, “smoked out.”