Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Texas Democratic Party et al. v Tina Benkiser draws Two Clinton Appointees, One George I & II Appointee

-Juanita broke this one (too).

The lots have been drawn and it looks like an interesting brew has been served to Tina Benkiser.

Fortunato P. Benavides is a Clinton appointee. He is Hispanic, Texan, and is on the “Long List” of Supreme Court nominates of the Hispanic National Bar Association.

Edith Brown Clement, a 1991 George H. W. Bush appointee to Federal District court, and 2001 Dubya appointee to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, is viewed as a “conservative and a strict constructionist" and also as a federalist. Look for Clement not to look too deeply for modern meanings in the US Constitution, and to give states more leeway in deciding local issues. An interesting mix because in this case, the question is one of supremacy of the US constitution over the Texas Election Code and whether local statutes can override the US Constitution in deciding eligibility for federal office. Note further that Time magazine mentioned her as a possible nominee for the SCOTUS seat that Justice Roberts left vacant. Wikipedia reports that Dubya viewed her as “too self-promoting” and passed her over, giving the nod to Harriet Miers instead.

There must be no love lost between Dubya and Judge Clement.

James L. Dennis is also a Clinton appointee. A native Louisianan, Dennis was elected to the Louisiana state house for two terms, and has served as judge in Louisiana in several capacities. In a vigorous dissent in a recent Texas Death Penalty case, Judge Dennis parted company with his judicial brethren, saying that the decision of the court “is at clear odds with the trend in Supreme Court decisions that broaden procedural safeguards for defendants in death penalty cases”. In the decision, 5th Circuit upheld a district court judges’s decision that an admitted murder’s family and friends could not testify in the penalty phase of his trial – even though he had killed his wife and two children they would have testified that they did not want him to be executed.

So it looks like a bench with two fair-minded liberal judges, and one conflicted passed-over conservative judge.

Things are looking a little grim for the Republicans who don’t want Tom DeLay’s name to appear on the November ballot. But as the great Yogi Berra would say “It ain't over 'til it's over”.

No comments: