What if I told you that you were going to trial on Monday, but that what you said in the court room didn't matter?
What if I told you the presiding judge had spent 20 years working against your beliefs?
What if I told you that he cared more about media exposure than judging your case on its merits?
What if I told you that he used to receive income from the lawyer prosecuting your case?
What if I told you he had ownership in a firm that prospered from working against your case?
Would you think you were receiving a fair trial?
Yet this exactly describes Judge Henry Hudson, who recently went against the considered opinion of judges in a whopping 14 other cases and ruled health care reform legislation unconstitutional in its current state.
I, along with a handful of journalists, have written about Judge Hudson's apparent conflict of interest and ideological disposition in the past. (Read here and here for more details). However, what's most important about this case continues to go unnoticed. In short:
- Judge Hudson owns a "sizable chunk" of Campaign Solutions Inc. As reported by HuffPost and the Alliance for Justice, Campaign Solutions is a Republican consulting firm that worked during the 2008 elections for John Boehner, Michele Bachmann and John McCain, "who've placed the purported unconstitutionality of health care reform at the center of their political platforms."
- Judge Hudson's firm also worked for Virginia Attorney General Ken Cucinelli, and was paid $9,000 this year by Mr. Cucinelli, who was simultaneously the plaintiff bringing health care reform to Judge Hudson's court.
- Judge Hudson has publicly declared his allegiance to the Republican Party, saying himself that he has spent "20 years of active service to the Republican party."
- In a quest for attention that hasn't been seen since a pair of notorious gate crashers arrived at the White House, Judge Hudson has chronicled his long history of seeking media attention, even declaring that his "love for broadcasting...overshadow[ed] my interest in practicing law". Slipping back into the crowd was "depressing" when he no longer received phone calls from Hollywood actors.
- Judge Hudson has said that he values relationships over merit, and spent his career consciously making decisions based upon furthering his career goals. "The progression of my life has been a calculated one. Merit plays a role, but you have to know the right people and be at the right place at the right time." He continued "The jobs I've had have been with a little help from my friends. And that's the way it is in politics. I went out of my way to go over to Capitol Hill, meet with Congress. It really paid dividends. They treated me extremely well."
There must be a place where we draw the line. Judge Hudson's ruling has been found to be highly questionable based upon its merits. Perhaps coincidentally (perhaps not), he was appointed as part of a wave of Republican appointees under President Bush during an era that can be described as a dark age for the American judicial system- one defined by ideological allegiance being valued over judicial merit.
Where there is such a questionable situation in our justice system, we have a duty to respond. Some say that you cannot ask questions, and you cannot criticize flawed decisions after the fact. Yet we must speak out against flawed and questionable decisions in order to right a wrong, and prevent more flawed decisions in our justice system in the future.
Eternal vigilance is the price of Democracy. We are bound by duty to do what is hard, in order to do what is right.
We live in a highly partisan era of Congressional and Presidential politics. We cannot let these calculated political priorities spill over to our judicial system as well. We cannot turn a blind eye to this case of apparent injustice, and we must ask the difficult questions to make sure our judicial system is neutral and fair for all.