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The Smear Campaign Against Potential SCOTUS Nominee Jane Kelly Is an Attack on the Constitution

There are few constitutional provisions more important than the Sixth Amendment’s guarantee of a right to defense counsel. That civil liberty, which applies even for indigent defendants who can’t afford their own attorney, is the cornerstone of the United States criminal justice system and a critical component of due process. In the legal community, it’s understood that criticizing an attorney who defends an unpopular defendant—especially a public defender assigned to an impoverished client—is inappropriate, offensive, and unprofessional. Public defenders who represent disreputable defendants are fulfilling the requirements of the Constitution; to condemn them for doing so is, in a very real sense, to condemn the Sixth Amendment itself.

But in the brewing nomination fight over a replacement for Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, the Judicial Crisis Network has thrown that long-held understanding out the window. An arch-conservative group lobbying congressional Republicans to block any Obama nominee, the JCN has begun preemptively smearing names on the president’s Supreme Court shortlist. Recently, JCN chief counsel Carrie Severino penned a reprehensible article in National Review targeting Jane Kelly, a federal judge who previously served as a public defender and has been discussed as a potential Scalia replacement. Severino highlighted Kelly’s defense of Casey Frederiksen, a convicted child molester who was accused of child pornography possession. Kelly helped negotiate a plea deal for Frederiksen, in part by noting that his psychologist believed he was not a threat to society. In other words, she did her job. Full Article

Join the discussion

  1. Robert Curtis

    To many unanswered questions still remains in regards to Justice Scalia’s untimely death then quick embalming without autopsy. In the interest of justice and respect to the soon to be president we should IMO pause the process until after the November elections and allow the new president to add his respective candidate to the hearings. This would give we the people two choices to compare during the confirmation process. This way if Obama’s selection is confirmed he is not beholding to Obama nor to any party (technically they’re not anyway) but to the people. The next president might just agree with Obama’s choice and not go with someone else. Due to Salia’s untimely questionable death this would be the only REASONABLE answer. Everything around his death and how it was handled stinks of fowl play. Obama when Bush was appointing someone went bullistic about it…why not support Obama’s past reasoning here? What do you think?

    • Lake County

      You would want Trump to pick the next Justice? Trump would send us all to a camp within a very large fence. Justice Scalia was old and overweight, he probably died of natural causes. But no matter how he died, I don’t want to take the chance on our fate being in Trumps hands.

      • Katharine

        Quite right, Lake County. Trump will first build large internment camps (ICE jails not being big enough) to hold the 11 million illegal immigrants awaiting deportation. Then, once they’re gone, and with the camps already built, you know who they’ll come for next. And the populace will cheer.

        Didn’t one of the SCOTUS justices once say there was nothing in the law to prevent another mass internment like what happened to Japanese-Americans during World War II?

    • Frank

      Robert Curtis- Agree with ya. It’s like kids arguing over who gets to pitch and who gets to catch in a sand-lot baseball game. The Constitution does not say that Congress must appoint the nominee within any official time period.

      Naturally, those in power want to see a Justice appointed who follows their particular views. A good balance in the Supreme Court is really a good thing. If we had all Liberal or all Conservative leaning justices, that would make me very nervous.

      I can’t predict what’s next. Conservative House and Senate and a Liberal POTUS and look
      what they are doing to us now.

      IMO, The Supreme Court can function just fine with 8 Judges over the next several months.

      We have a stake in this process as most of the input on this site indicates and we all will agree that the Courts have not done a good job at protecting us in a constitutional manner.

      As a RC, I personally believe it doesn’t matter who’s in there, we have been screwed and that will continue.

      The part that irritates me to no end:

      When I was sentenced they said you will be on a list for life. They never said anything at all like this:

      If we decide to share this information with your neighbors, it’s just too bad for you.
      BTW…any new law that is passed over your lifetime, you will be expected to take it like a man and adhere to any new punishment we come up with along the way…whether you like it or not. And we have you by the short hairs and you will obey any and every new punishment we can come up with.

      Sorry about that.

    • Timmr

      It is called separation of powers. One branch should not hinder the legitimate functioning of another branch of government. There is no longer a balance of powers. The Congress wants to run the other two branches, instead of playing their part. Heck, we have Chris Smith taking on the job of Secretary of State, lobbying Helsinki to sell the Registry to Europe. This government is falling apart.

      • Timmmy

        Well, in their defense, you notice Congress was placed in Article I, but instead the Article II person has become the centerpiece of centralized power.

  2. Timmr

    I think the Supreme court is now nothing more the a nine member wing of the Congress and the judges are “elected” by whatever party has the majority on the sole grounds of party orthodoxy, not on their ability to apply the Constitution impartially.

    • wonderin

      My sentiments exactly. Superior court judges should be chosen by their proven ability and integrity to interpret the ORIGINAL intent of the Constitution of the United States as it applies to any law, regardless of political persuasions.

  3. ProvenU Wrong >23yrs

    Writer Mark Joseph Stern of Slate.com is right on point that the Constitution demands it..commands it that every person has the right of attorney.
    Good article defending the Constitution. Its Mr.Stern and Slate.com . Good articles.

  4. Rob

    Found this article very interesting about the lack of criminal defense justices on the supreme court

    http://www.vox.com/2016/3/28/11306422/supreme-court-prosecutors-career

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