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The Second Time as Farce

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"Hegel remarks somewhere that all facts and personages of great importance in world history occur, as it were, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second as farce." -- Karl Marx

Hands down, the worst mistake of Jerry Brown's first round as Governor of California was his disastrous appointment of the vehemently anti-death-penalty, pro-criminal Chief Justice Rose Bird.  It was a tragedy because there were enough Justices on the California Supreme Court at that time with similar inclinations to wreak havoc in criminal law.

President Obama's nomination of Goodwin Liu to the Ninth Circuit was correctly blocked by Senate Republicans.  As I have noted many times on this blog, Liu fails his own test.  His views are too far out of the mainstream (further by far than Samuel Alito's), provided that one measures "mainstream" by the obvious benchmark of the median voter.  Liu's deplorable attack on Justice Alito on the death penalty tells us all we need to know about his views on the subject.

Campaigning first for Attorney General and then for Governor, Brown repeatedly assured the voters he had learned his lesson.  He cited President Eisenhower and Governor Reagan for judicial appointments they came to deeply regret.  For my own part, I was deeply skeptical that he had really learned.

I was right.  Today Brown announced the appointment of Goodwin Liu to the California Supreme Court.  There is no chance of blocking this nomination, given that two of the three members of the Commission on Judicial Appointments are kindred spirits.

I hope this is farce rather than tragedy.  The California Supreme Court has six other Justices.  The Chief Justice, appointed by the Governator on his way out the door, is a person of sense, is relatively young, and will likely be there a long time.  For the time being, Liu's votes to erroneously reverse proper criminal judgments will be mostly dissents and frequently solo.  Let us hope that the other five associate justices hang in there and Brown gets no more appointments.

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