23 May 2009

The Worst Nominee

In my first year of law school, a group of us drove from South Bend to Chicago to sit in on oral arguments in the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals for the case NOW v. Scheidler. Afterwards, we had lunch with the defendants, Joe Scheidler and his legal team, during which we had revealing conversations about the plaintiff abortion clinics and the untruths they told while on the stand. Some months later, the panel of judges issued an opinion, authored by Judge Diane Wood--in the abortion clinics' favor.

On appeal to the Supreme Court, the decision was reversed 8-1. The Court had vacated the judgment of the district court, meaning essentially that the case was dead. Scheidler and the Pro-Life Action League were free and clear, and had not been found guilty of violating the Hobbs Act.

Any other lower court judge would have immediately implemented the judgment of the High Court--except for Judge Diane Wood. In an act of breathtaking arrogance, Judge Wood chose to ignore the Supreme Court's mandate, and instead issued an opinion questioning whether the injunction could still hold based on certain other "threats" or acts of "violence" (we learned from Mr. Scheidler that the so-called threat was his admonition to the abortion clinic staff to repent or suffer the risk of being eternally lost; and the acts of "violence" were flat-out lies made up by the plaintiffs to strengthen their case).

The case was appealed again to the Supreme Court, which this time unanimously reversed the decision. The Court sent a clear message to Judge Wood and the 7th Circuit panel by its last line: The judgment of the Court of Appeals is reversed, and the cases are remanded for entry of judgment for petitioners.

For a more extensive analysis of Judge Wood's jurisprudence (and her lack of judicial temperament), see Ed Whelan's discussions here.