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Picking a Justice Based on the Headlines

Reported by Judy - July 7, 2005

One Fox News Channel personality is trying to use crimes from the day's headlines to inflame public opinion on George Bush's pick for the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy created by the departure of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

John Gibson on "The Big Story" on Wednesday (July 6, 2005) devoted two segments in his one-hour show to push his point that judges tough on crime should be appointed to the bench.

In the first segment, Gibson said that Bush should pick J. Michael Luttig because Luttig's father was murdered. Americans are "crazed" about crime, he said, and Luttig's experience with it personally would make him more sensitive on the court. I don't think we can name one other Supreme Court Justice" who has been touched so closely by crime, he said.

His two guests -- Wendy Long from the Judicial Confirmation Network and Seth Rosenthal of Alliance for Justice -- seemed a bit taken aback by Gibson's criteria for selecting a justice. Long managed to point out that Earl Warren's father also was murdered so Luttig would not be setting a precedent. (And wasn't it the Warren court that gave us the Miranda warnings the right likes to gripe about?)

Most of the segment was taken up by Gibson explaining his rationale as to why Luttig would be such a great pick, but Rosenthal finally got in a comment about how justices are supposed to apply the law, not their personal experiences, in deciding cases.

Gibson tried again later in the show after the news conference held by Steve Groene, the father of Dillon and Shasta Groene, the young boy and girl in the Montana murder-kidnapping case.

Steve Groene said the case shows sex offenders "should not be allowed out in public. ... There's no excuse for it" and that people should lobby their representatives in Congress and even the president for a change in the law.

After Judge Andrew Napolitano pointed out that states, not the federal government, handle such cases unless state lines are crossed, Gibson went back to his earlier theme. Because of cases like these, isn't it important to have the right justices on the court, he asked, because the alleged perpetrator might get the death penalty and appeal?

Napolitano humored Gibson by saying yes, it is important who sits on the bench for appeals, but that in this case, the court already has upheld the death penalty and probably would not hear any appeal on that issue anyway.

Look for Gibson to keep this up, to try to drag every sensational crime into the top political development of the summer. Anything to help George Bush put the most reactionary conservative he can on the court.

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