Steve's Soapbox

Friday, October 21, 2005

What you're not hearing on Brownwood Talk Radio !

Tom DeLay can't have it both ways
Saturday, October 22, 2005
U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay, the Sugar Land Republican, rose to power as House majority leader on his mastery of partisan warfare in the place where Americans expect such combat: election booths and the halls of Congress.
But now he and his lawyers are taking that partisan warfare into a new forum, the Texas courts. He should not be allowed to do it.
DeLay wants the courts to move his trial from Travis County because of its history of supporting Democratic candidates; he complains that Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle, a Democrat, is prosecuting him for partisan reasons; and he wants state District Judge Bob Perkins of Austin, a Democrat who is hearing the case, to turn the case over to some other judge.
There's not much DeLay can do about Earle's power to prosecute the case.
But Travis County is not as solidly Democratic as DeLay says.
The western half of the county has supported many a Republican candidate and elected several, such as state Reps. Terry Keel and Todd Baxter and County Commissioner Gerald Daugherty. In the last presidential election, Democratic candidate John Kerry won Travis County — but President Bush still drew 147,885 votes, or 42 percent.
As for removing Perkins, the public should consider whether the court system ought to start dismissing every judge accused of partisan bias, even in the absence of any evidence of it.
Perkins has made some campaign contributions to various Democratic causes and candidates, the largest apparently being $1,000 to the Travis County Democratic Party. But such contributions are not exceptional among Texas judges, who run for office as party candidates.
Despite that, judges are expected to apply the law impartially, even (especially) to members of the other political party. If they don't, their rulings are subject to judicial appeal and their jobs to official discipline.
Nevertheless, DeLay argues that, given the political nature of his alleged crime of conspiring to launder political campaign donations, Perkins should not preside over his case. Perkins has referred the request to an administrative judge, B.B. Shraub, a Seguin Republican who was re-appointed to that post by another Republican, Gov. Rick Perry, in 2002.
Should the public conclude that, as a Republican, Judge Shraub cannot be trusted to make the right decision because of his party affiliation?
If DeLay were convicted, he no doubt would appeal all the way to the Court of Criminal Appeals. Should we assume that that court's judges — all nine of whom are Republicans — would be incapable of considering this fellow Republican's appeal on nonpartisan grounds?
And if Perkins conducts the trial, it's the Court of Criminal Appeals that will be looking over his shoulder.
What we've seen so far does not indicate that Perkins would be biased against DeLay.
It was Perkins who let DeLay turn himself in for booking in Houston, rather than Austin.
The resulting mug shot of DeLay was so flattering, The New York Times reported, that his allies in Washington joked that it could be used for the Congressional Directory.
DeLay wants it both ways: bring partisan warfare to the court, then complain there's partisan warfare in the court. The courts should not allow it to happen.