I am a strong believer in what the Founding Fathers intended by creating an independent federal judiciary.
They gave the president the authority to nominate federal judges for lifetime jobs, pending approval by the U.S. Senate. The intent, as I’ve always understood it, was to de-politicize the judicial branch of government.
Then again, politics always seems to be part of the subplot of every federal judicial decision.
U.S. District Judge David Godbey, for example, today struck down Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s ban on Syrian refugees coming to Texas. Paxton cited security concerns in asking for the temporary restraining order. Godbey ruled within hours of the request that Paxton had failed to demonstrate that the refugees posed any kind of threat.
Godbey wrote, according to the Texas Tribune: “The Court finds that the evidence before it is largely speculative hearsay,” the judge wrote. “The [state] has failed to show by competent evidence that any terrorists actually have infiltrated the refugee program, much less that these particular refugees are terrorists intent on causing harm.”
So, it’s fair to ask: Is this judge sitting on the federal bench because a liberal Democratic president, Barack Obama, appointed him? No. He was selected in 2003 by Republican President George W. Bush to serve the Northern District of Texas. Paxton, let’s point out, is a Republican as well.
Does it really matter, then, whether a judge gets picked by a Democrat or a Republican? It shouldn’t. Judges take an oath to uphold the Constitution without regard to political favor. They do, remember, have a lifetime job.
But the politics of this particular issue — the refugee crisis and the political debate swirling all over it — causes one to look carefully at who’s making these decisions.
Judge Godbey appears to have put the law above his political leanings.