- The Washington Times - Friday, September 16, 2005

Nobles: U.S. District Court Judge Loretta Preska, for doing her part to put an end to judicial activism.

Last summer, New York state Attorney General Eliot Spitzer and his counterparts in six other states hatched a scheme: They would bypass the democratic process in order to force the country to do what they think is right. In this case, “doing right” meant suing five of the country’s largest power producers in federal court for contributing to global warming, because, as Mr. Spitzer says, “the science is clear.” Just what “the science” is clear on, however, is a little tricky, and probably not the sort of thing a judge should decide.

Thankfully, Judge Preska was having none of it. She dismissed the Spitzer case Thursday — and quite contemptuously. “Cases presenting political questions are consigned to the political branches that are accountable to the people, not the judiciary,” she wrote. In other words, Judge Preska holds the remarkable opinion that of the three branches of government it is the legislative branch that should, well, legislate. Mr. Spitzer of course promised to appeal.

The tragedy in all this is that Judge Preska’s view is remarkable at all. Simply doing one’s job, which is all Judge Preska did, is not in itself a noble deed. But in this era of rampant judicial activism judges like Judge Preska stand out, and they should be congratulated.

For essentially telling Mr. Spitzer to take a hike, Judge Preska is the Noble of the week.

Knaves: The Orleans Levee Board, whose mismanagement says a lot about pre-Katrina New Orleans.

As its name suggests, the Orleans Levee Board’s job is to manage the city’s levees. So it was rather surprising when NBC News reported this week that the Levee Board spent $2.4 million on the Mardi Gras Fountain earlier this year. Generally speaking, fountains — even multimillion-dollar ones — aren’t known for their defense of levees.

NBC News also rightly wondered what the Levee Board was doing when it spent $15 million on two overpasses that helped gamblers reach the city’s riverboat casinos. And then there’s the little matter of spending $45,000 on private investigators to “dig up dirt on this radio host and board critic,” NBC reported.

In light of these dubious expenditures, it’s no wonder the state inspector-general once accused the board of “a long-standing and continuing disregard of the public interest.” This isn’t quite fair. Fountains can be a beautiful addition to the urban landscape, except when they’re underwater.

For ignoring its primary duty, the Orleans Levee Board is the Knave of the week.

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