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Thursday, May 18, 2006

Here come da judge

Virginia Linder against Jack Roberts in a runoff for Oregon Supreme Court -- that's one of the most interesting judicial races one could dream up. As long-time readers of this blog know, Jack's my favorite Republican, and Linder -- has anyone mentioned that she's a woman, and there are no women on the state's highest court?

Anyway, Governor Ted Kulongoldschmidt has a chance to influence the race, in that there's a midterm vacancy coming up on the court and he'll have a chance to fill it. Once he indicates a likely choice, voters can take a look at the replacement judge's gender, and that may influence how strongly they care about the sex factor in the Roberts-Linder race.

A commenter here recently pointed out that Linder's a career government lawyer who has never had a real client. Roberts hasn't had one in a long time, but at least he cut his teeth as a tax lawyer representing taxpayers. With the other candidate out of the way, the differences between the two will come into sharp focus. They're both very smart. As I say, it should make for an interesting summer.

Comments (22)

Linder is not really a "woman," is she Jack?

What the hell does "that" mean, Intrepid?

I thought the most interesting aspect of the Supreme Court race is that Gene Hallman, an able and respected lawyer from Pendleton, carried his home county -- Umatilla -- but lost every other Eastern Oregon county. In most of them, he was a distant third. So much for the argument that voters east of the mountains believe that they are not "represented" on the Supreme Court.

I mean she isn't really a woman by the traditional standard and definition of what it means to be a woman, is she?

Heck, until a few days ago, Jack Roberts wasn't really a lawyer by the traditional standard and definition of what it means to be a lawyer - so they're even.

Intrepid: What? As in, born with a uterus? I think she has that part covered. I really don't get what you're alluding to. Though judges are of course bound by the law, judges' approach to legal questions are guided by assumptions about a given state of affairs, which (in large part) are formed by their experiences. You can bet that, as a woman, she's had different experiences from most men, especially coming up in the profession when she did.

Amanda - intrepid is alluding to sexual preference, not gender.

Oughtn't we be examining their respective qualifications? And, as MLK might have said, not their physiology but the content of their character?

scott r: if that is indeed what "intrepid" is referring to, it's beneath comment.

Rusty: agreed. All things being equal, I prefer to see a few women on the Court. After all, we represent half the law graduates now. And things are far from equal in this instance. Judge Linder is smart, experienced in appellate law both on and off the bench (and appellate law is its own animal, so that's important), and fair. She's the more qualified candidate. To my mind, it's just a bonus that she happens to also be a woman.

Qualifications? What does that have to do with it?

These are robed politicians. Nothing more. Choose who to vote for by ideology. Quit pretending that Oregon's court system is full of judges. It ain't - it's full of politicians who get to decide things without man checks and balances, which is what makes it so dangerous.

Just look at Lipscomb and James. Hack politicians.

So, sexual preference is definitely a relevant issue inasmuch as it is a marker of (or a proxy for) ideology. And sexual preference IS a good proxy for ideology.

So, Linden's sexual identity is relevant.

intrepid: that is absurd. We have an elected judiciary, an initiative and referendum system (assuming one is able to follow simple rules) that allows the public to change the Constitution, among other checks on the judiciary (let's not forget recalls--at least, people who are capable of reading & following directions may mount them). To suggest that most judges aren't doing their utmost to apply the law is mere Constitution Party babble from people who have absolutely no training in the law.

Sexual identity is also an absurd proxy for politics. Although you can't be a hardcore right wing religious zealot if you're a lesbian, you can be all across the political spectrum otherwise. I don't mind the idea of voting against the aforementioned type of religious zealots who run--who WILL be activist judges if they are elected, for their faith demands it.

Here we go again - another election year chapter of "Those Evil Liberal Homosexuals".

Never mind that the percentage of gays/lesbians who vote Democratic drops with every election cycle. Wouldn't want to confuse the "homosexual agenda" crowd with actual facts.

The remnants and dregs of the OCA live on.

If you've ever appeared in Paul Lipscomb's court, as I have, you know he's not a hack politician. I've appeared before Mary Merten James only once and she ruled against my client, but had a good reason for doing so. She's no hack. Of course, reality don't mean a thing to pinheads.

It is laughable to say that sexual identity is not a good proxy for political ideology.

Would you also say that religion is not a good proxy? You would say, then that born again Christians as a group cannot be generalized as far as their political viewpoints?


Hinckly you act as if pointing out that gays and lesbians are overwhelmingly liberal is some kind of bigotry. It's not, any more than pointing out that born again Christians are conservative.

Religion is not something you're born with. Sexual orientation is, but that's a fact the OCA crowd doesn't want to be confused by either.

But you're confusing statistics with facts.

What we have is not a race between "an arbitrary woman/lesbian" and "an arbitrary man". What we have is a race between "Virginia Linder" and "Jack Roberts".

Once you individualize something, statistics instantly become meaningless. You can't say that because 85% of lesbians are Democrats, that means Linder is 85% Democratic. She is an individual, not a representative sample, and statistics don't work that way.

Was anyone turned off by the fact that Virginia's platform seemed to be only that Oregon's Supreme Court doesn't have any women? I wound up voting for Jack largely because I don't really feel comfortable with anyone touting their (insert physiological description here) as their main qualifying trait. Am I alone?

intrepid: spoken like someone with a vast acquaintance among the LGBT community. Sure, it's inconsistent to belong to some right-wing religious sects and be (at least openly) LGBT, but as far as other political positions go, it's open territory.

We just completed one of the most closely contested--and, yes, highest spending--judicial races in Oregon history without any negative campaigning by any of the candidates. Why can't we keep doing that through November?

Judge Linder and I bring different backgrounds and abilities to this race and will provide voters with a choice that does not have to reflect poorly on either of us. I regard Judge Linder as a friend, and came to regard Gene Hallman as one as well. I don't believe friends have to become enemies just because they are competing for the same job.

Some of the insinuations in this thread are contemptible. We should have zero tolerance for this in today's world and I will not tolerate it in my campaign.

Whether or not sexual preference is a good proxy for ideology (as intrepid submits), the thing that makes it easy to figure out the ideology of appellate judges such as Judge Linder is that they write opinions and sign their names to them. The gender of the person that Judge Linder has (as I understand) shared her life with for the last 20 years isn't nearly as useful in figuring her out as are the judicial decisions she's written and published since she joined the Court of Appeals.

Saying that we should vote for Linder because she's a woman implies the rational permissibility and credibility of it's corollary, i.e., that it's reasonable to vote against her for the very same reason. Is this really where you pro-woman, pro-Linder advocates want to go? Me, I'll be looking at non-biological factors. If the scale tips to Linder on that basis, she'll get my vote.

Amanda, you write: Sexual identity is also an absurd proxy for politics.

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