There is an expression that most baby boomers heard when we were growing up: “Dance with the person who brought you to the dance.”
Clearly, Donald Trump heard that expression. He brought a very conservative judge, John K. Bush, to the bench, an appeasement to the conservatives who elected him. It does not matter that Ivanka Trump is not a conservative, nor that Donald Trump was much more liberal in his earlier days. Conservatives got him elected, and he is paying them back for it.
John K. Bush got approved for the federal bench this week. His record is abhorrent to even a moderate let alone a liberal. First and foremost, why would someone who wrote under a pseudonym be appointed to the federal bench? He was asked about what he wrote during his hearing. He gave the correct answer, of course. In their hearing preparation, all witnesses are told how to respond. When he was asked about his wife’s website, Elephants in the Bluegrass, he said: “Blogging is a political activity. It is not appropriate to bring politics to the bench.” Of course it isn’t. That was the correct answer, but why did he find it necessary to write under a pseudonym?
He was asked during his hearing about some of his far-out theories, including that Barack Obama did not write “Dreams from My Father.” His response? His answer? “I usually relied upon readily available sources on the Internet discussing topics that might be of interest to the blog’s readership.” That is a dodge if there ever were one.
He is known to have written while “blogging” things that would give people pause, given that he was up for a federal judgeship. One post that has many people up in arms is his comparison of abortion to slavery. You may not believe in a woman’s right to choose, but to compare abortion to slavery as “two of the greatest tragedies in this country” is a bit much.
He is not just a federal judge. He’ll serve on the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. He is 52 (he’ll be 53 at the end of August), so he could influence decisions for decades to come. The Democrats opposed his appointment, and Sen. Al Franken, called him “uniquely unqualified.”
He does process the best academic credentials, having graduated from Harvard Law School, cum laude, and he has spent many years as a lawyer in Kentucky. He worked on the Iran-Contra case, helping the Reagan administration with its case. He clerked for a federal appellate judge. He also possesses the “correct” conservative credentials, serving as the local chapter head of the Federalist Society. Looking strictly at his academic background, he is qualified. However, it is mystifying as to why he did not write his political opinions under his real name.
Although he said during his hearing that it’s not appropriate for a federal judge to be political while on the bench, who will monitor his musings via his clerks or wife and make sure that he is not producing material that winds up in their blog posts?
David Stacy, government affairs director for the Human Rights Campaign Fund, wrote an open letter to members of the Senate on John K. Bush. In the letter, he said: “Bush has a record of hostility towards LGBTQ Americans. He co-authored a publication for The Federalist Society criticizing the ‘expansive view’ of the Kentucky Supreme Court for striking down the state’s sodomy ban; a ban similar to that struck down shortly thereafter by the U.S. Supreme Court in Lawrence v. Texas. The legal reasoning underlying the Court’s decision in Lawrence informed the Court’s later decisions in United States v. Windsor and Obergefell v. Hodges, recognizing LGBTQ people’s right to equal protection under the Constitution and the fundamental right to same-sex marriage. When pressed later on his understanding of Obergefell under an originalist reading, he refused to directly answer the question. Instead, Bush stated that he had not studied the decision and the ‘methodology of its constitutional interpretation.’ While he acknowledged that Obergefell is currently settled law for purposes of binding Supreme Court precedent on lower courts, he refused to fully commit that the issues in the case were settled from the perspective of the Supreme Court.”
You don’t have to be a political junkie to know why President Trump appointed him, but did he have to go this far? The deed is done, John K. Bush is now a federal appellate judge, but let’s hope he brought his last appointee to the dance, and that President Trump fulfilled his commitment.
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