Our Dysfunctional Judiciary


Here comes the judge

Although it never “goes viral” or even elicits much comment, I never miss a chance, whether in a post or in commenting about the latest episode of judicial mispractice in this country, to point out that there are 864 federal judges in the United States.  Eight hundred and sixty four.  Counting the appeals courts and the district courts and of course the Supremes, there are as many federal judges with jurisdiction in Indiana, where I live, as there are members of the Indiana State Senate.

It is not a “hot button” topic in the blogosphere, although there are always rants about “judicial activism”  or “judicial overreach”.  Or, cases of pseudo-constitutional governance and betrayal by judges who seem to want to dance with other than who brung ’em.  And yet somehow most commentators, who talk about our “bloated” federal bureaucracy, and with good reason, don’t seem bothered by the plethora of “deciders” we have in our Third Branch of Government and the opportunity for mischief and chaos and eradication of certain sovereignties and reserved powers and individual rights because of it.

In the State of Indiana, beer, wine and liquor licenses are granted to grocery and convenience stores as well as retail liquor stores, bars and restaraunts  But there are no beer coolers at the supermarket.  The age at which booze may be purchased is of course the same at all outlets, but you cannot pick up a cold six pack at the grocery to slake your thirst after stocking your pantry when you get home.  A coterie of retaliers wanted to cash in on that portion of the market.  So they sued.

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a state law that prohibits convenience stores, gas stations and other retailers from selling beer cold in the state. A three-judge panel ruled unanimously in a decision announced Monday.

In a 13-page opinion written by Judge Diane Sykes, the court found IPCA failed to carry its burden in showing why the state’s cold-beer statute is unconstitutional.

“The association’s policy arguments for allowing cold-beer sales by grocery and convenience stores are matters for the Indiana legislature, not the federal judiciary,” Sykes concluded in the case.

The IPCA filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana in May 2013. The plaintiffs argued Indiana’s statutes regarding cold beer sales violated the Commerce Clause, the Equal Protection and Due Process clauses of the 14th Amendment, and parallel provisions in the Indiana Constitution.

However, the association failed to convince Judge Richard L. Young, who said restricting the sale of cold beer to package stores was rational and not unconstitutionally vague.

In his 34-page ruling, Young wrote: “The state has a legitimate interest in limiting the sale of alcohol and, more to the point, a legitimate interest in curbing the sale of immediately consumable beer to minors.”

ice cold beer

So 7th Circuit Judge Sykes says it was a matter for the state legislature and not the federal judiciary? Do tell! So why did it take a 13-page opinion for her to deny the plaintiff’s relief? Well, probably because it took District Court Judge Young 34 pages to issue the initial ruling, and 2 1/2 years for the case to wend it’s way through the system. So we suppose she had to give them a little bit of judicial wisdom for all the money they spent litigating it.

Wasn’t it just great that the retailers had a handy district court judge to corral and drag into a case involving the temperature of beer? Maybe they will go over the heads of the 7th circuit judges and appeal it all the way to the top.
Speaking of the top, we were just ruminating the other day over the Supreme Court’s decision NOT to hear a case at all.

The justices by a 7-2 vote turned down a 2nd Amendment challenge to a local ordinance in the Chicago suburb of Highland Park which banned the sale or possession of semiautomatic guns that carry more than 10 rounds of ammunition.

The court’s decision was not a formal ruling — the justices simply decided not to consider an appeal by gun-rights advocates. But it strongly suggests the majority of the court does not see the 2nd Amendment as protecting a right to own or carry powerful weapons in public.”

So the Court decided they couldn’t be bothered to consider a case involving a fundamental pillar of the Bill of Rights, possibly saving themselves for a more challenging and delectable debate over retail sales in the State of Indiana, who knows. The point is, we all know that the 14th Amendment, which the Indiana case was based on, opened up cans of worms, Pandora’s boxes and everything else. Activists, opportunists, statists and communists have all used it over the years, crying big crocodile tears about how they have been wronged. And it has come to this: crying over warm beer. Good grief.

district courts

If there were not eight hundred and sixty four federal judges, ninety four district courts and thirteen circuit courts, perhaps only those issues mentioned in the Constitution of the United States might get grants of certiorari. Maybe there might be a few more aha! moments like Judge Sykes had when she said, in effect, “This is not our job.” Maybe a stable of a few dozen district court judges instead of a few hundred might consider themselves to be a little bit more above the fray and tell a whole bunch of these supplicants “You don’t have standing, Jack.”

All of those deciders and adjudicators were not enumerated in the Constitution. They are creatures of Congress. It is high time the Congress started trimming the fat in not only the executive branch, but also the judicial. When the right to drink cold beer has standing but the right to keep and bear arms does not, we have strayed way too far off the reservation.

circuit courts

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Poor. No advanced degrees. Unorganized. Feeble. Disjointed. Random. Past it. .... Intrigued, Interested, Patriotic and Lucky.
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Poor. No advanced degrees. Unorganized. Feeble. Disjointed. Random. Past it. .... Intrigued, Interested, Patriotic and Lucky.

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