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Thursday, 13 December 2007 03:06

Just Like the Bates Motel, Justice Doesn't Get to Check Out from the Federal Courtroom of Judge John D. Bates

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BUZZFLASH EDITOR'S BLOG

Mark Karlin, Editor and Publisher, BuzzFlash.com

December 13, 2007

When we inaugurated the BuzzFlash Editor's Blog a short time back, we began with a multi-part series on radical right-wing United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Judge David Sentelle (and his sidekick Judge Laurence Silberman). Our purpose was to show the enormous damage to democracy that has been done as a result of the strategic packing of the federal bench by right-wing zealots.

You can read our postings on David Sentelle, a jurist on a mission to rid America of secular culture, by going to the BuzzFlash Editor's Blog section of our site and scrolling down to our five-part series on Sentelle's career as a judicial wrecking ball of the highest order.

Our objective was to show how naive the Democrats are to allow the confirmation of an endless supply of partisan hacks, whose purpose is to sit on the bench and make rulings favorable to Republicans. Sentelle may be a point person for the Federalist Society cabal, but he is only symptomatic of dozens upon dozens of appointees from the Reagan, Bush I, and Bush II administrations whose loyalty is to their radical ideology and the Republican Party, not to the Constitution or democracy.

As an example of a David Sentelle in the making, we offer up today one Judge John D. Bates, appointed by George W. Bush to the crucial D.C. Federal District Court in December of 2001.

Bates' name most recently came up on December 11th when Bates, who also serves on the FISA Court (as appointed by Judge Roberts -- are you seeing a pattern here?), wrote the court decision refusing to release documents on the Bush Administration's illegal wiretapping program.

According to the First Amendment Center,

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, in a rare on-the-record opinion, said the public had no right to view the documents because they deal with the clandestine workings of national-security agencies.

The American Civil Liberties Union asked the court to release the records in August. Specifically, the organization asked for the government's legal briefs and the court's opinions on the wiretapping program.

U.S. District Judge John D. Bates, who sits on the national security court, refused. Releasing the documents would reveal closely guarded secrets that enemies could used to evade detection or disrupt intelligence activities, he said. Sources could be outed, targets could be tipped off and diplomatic relations could be damaged.

"All these possible harms are real and significant and, quite frankly, beyond debate," Bates wrote.

Of further interest, Bates was the sole judge on FISA who signed the opinion, which means that he alone may have made the decision.

Before we proceed further, should we note that Bates writes in his own official court biography, "Judge Bates was on detail as Deputy Independent Counsel for the Whitewater investigation from 1995 to mid-1997." Fancy that! If ever there was an indication of Omerta to the right wing, it was serving as a Federalist Club attorney with the Ken Starr jihad.

But let's move on to the last few years.

When the General Accounting Office legally sought to compel Cheney to release the members of his secret energy task force, Judge Bates ruled on behalf of Cheney and against the GAO, an agency of Congress. Bates claimed that the GAO did not have "standing" to file suit against Cheney (echoes of unitary authority thinking here).

And remember that civil suit brought by Valerie Plame and Joe Wilson against various rogues in the Bush Administration? Guess who dismissed it? Judge John D. Bates. Bates claimed that the administration had the right to rebut Joe Wilson's "criticisms."

In 2002, Bates ruled that 32 members of Congress had no "standing" to sue the Bush Administration for unilaterally withdrawing from an ABM treaty.

BuzzFlash could continue, but you are getting the picture here.

Like Major League Baseball, the right wing has a farm team of younger partisan hack judges to fill the ranks, as the likes of David Sentelle and Laurence Silberman retire.

It is clear that Judge John D. Bates is one of the chosen ones.

He has a bright future in ruling in favor of his party over his country and our Constitution.

BUZZFLASH EDITOR'S BLOG