- The Washington Times - Friday, March 5, 2004

I do a radio show each week, titled “Bob Barr’s Laws of the Universe.” Law No. 1 in this growing compendium of universal truths is, “The World is Full of Idiots.”

In recognition of the importance of this First Law, each week on the show we honor a select few persons who are members of this group, as “Idiots of the Week.” I have noted a strange phenomenon in recent weeks — the increasing number of judges who are receiving this not-so-prestigious award. Why is this? Why do we seem to be seeing more and more judges rendering more and more ridiculous pronouncements — opinions and statements — from the bench? Is the quality of our robed arbiters diminishing? In a word, yes.

Let’s start with a news story still making the headlines — same-sex “marriages” in the City on the Bay, the City of Flower Children, the City of Eternal Homelessness, which you know as San Francisco. We have a rogue mayor — one Gavin Newsom, a rich kid with a Napoleon complex — deciding he doesn’t like California’s law limiting issuance of marriage licenses to couples who are members of different sexes. So, he just ignores the law — violates it — and issues marriage licenses to whoever wants them, regardless of whether they are couples of the same or opposite sexes.

An organization opposed to same-sex “marriages,” and which believes government officials should uphold and not violate the laws of their state, sued the mayor and asked the state courts to halt the illegal “marriages.”

Should be a no-brainer, right? A court is being asked to tell a proudly self-proclaimed lawbreaker to stop breaking the law. Nope. Not in today’s world where up is down, black is white, and the foundation of society is not Rule of Law but rather “If It Feels Good, Do It.”

Two California judges decided a public official clearly violating the law was not sufficiently “ripe” or important as to require an order halting the illegal conduct. One judge — our award-winner, Judge James Warren — issued a nonbinding cease-and-desist order. In other words, he issued a ruling utterly meaningless on its face — an order that is nonbinding is by definition not a cease-and-desist order. The good Boy Mayor did what any spoiled kid would do after being told by a parent, “stop doing that, but I’m not going to make you stop doing it” — he continued issuing illegal licenses.

Is this judge just not smart enough to understand plain English? Does he think those who will read his ruling are too stupid to realize the idiocy of his ruling? Or does he simply support what the mayor is doing? Do judges no longer understand there is — sooner or later — a cause and effect between toleration of lawlessness and further lawlessness?

A fellow black-robed traveler deserves mention here. Recently, in Polk County, Tenn., Criminal Court Judge Steve Bebb issued a ruling breathtaking in its stupidity.

Facing the good judge for sentencing, was a school bus driver already convicted of criminally negligent homicide for causing the deaths of three schoolchildren because she drove her school bus into the path of an oncoming train.

Lamenting “there’s no perfect justice in the world,” Judge Bebb gave the murderer 90 days in jail. You heard right — 30 days in the pokey for each of the three school kids she killed. What was this judge thinking? Who cares whether there’s “perfect justice in the world?” Most of us, especially the parents of those poor kids, would gladly settle for “reasonable justice in America.”

No discussion of nincompoop judges would be complete without mentioning Judge Robert Hamley. Judge Hamely served until recently, on the local court in Hunter Village, N.Y. (about 100 miles north of the Big Apple). Hizzoner Hamley remarked to a victim of domestic violence that her case was a “waste of the court’s time” and that women ask to get “smacked around” anyway. (At least he resigned after the citizens of Hunter Village raised a stink about his statements.)

The sad thing is these three stories are neither unique nor even unusual. Hardly a week passes, without at least one story of national note drawing attention to a judge or judges rendering clearly silly or incomprehensible decisions.

Almost daily nowadays, we read of judges using the power that comes with donning a black robe to foist their personal views of the world on their “subjects.” Witness the “highest” court in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts finding a constitutional right for homosexuals to marry, even though a majority of citizens in that state — consistent with every other state in the Union — do not wish to recognize homosexual “marriages” as a favored or even appropriate relationship.

What accounts for this phenomenon? It’s the result of several factors, including:

* Diminished training for, and intellectual capacity of, our judges, reflecting the declining educational standards in our society at large.

* Public disinterest in judicial posts and election of judges.

* And the avalanche of vague and poorly drafted laws and government regulations that invites judicial activism.

The problem reflects a process that has been brewing for two generations, going back to the 1960s. However, what we could absorb in decades past because there were far fewer judges, laws and lawsuits, and a more involved and educated citizenry, can no longer be tolerated. That is, unless we wish to live in a society ruled by black-robed despots of often limited intellect, making decisions for us that we ought to be making.

Bob Barr, a former Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Georgia, is a columnist for United Press International.

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