FRC Announces Winners Of 2000 Court Jester Awards

Judges 'Roasted' for 'Ridiculous Rulings'



Jun 30, 2000, 01:00 ET from Family Research Council

    WASHINGTON, June 30 /PRNewswire/ -- Commemorating what they think are the
 year's most outrageous judicial decisions, Family Research Council announced
 the winners of the Fourth Annual Court Jester Awards on June 29 in an evening
 ceremony at the National Press Club.  "The annual Court Jester Awards is a
 lighthearted roast to activist judges who violate the public trust by handing
 down decisions that advance their own political agendas rather than follow
 constitutional principles," said Jan LaRue, Senior Director for Legal Studies
 at Family Research Council and a member of the Court Jester Award Committee.
 "This year, there were so many ridiculous rulings, it was difficult to choose
 which judges most deserved to be called 'out of order.'"
     Over 28 nominated rulings were considered for Court Jester awards in seven
 different categories.  The final winners were chosen by a distinguished Awards
 Committee consisting of some of the nation's leading pro-family legal
 scholars, including: Phyllis Schlafly (President, Eagle Forum), Sam Casey
 (Executive Director, Christian Legal Society), Tom Jipping (Vice President,
 Free Congress Foundation), Alex Acosta, (Director, Project on the Judiciary,
 Ethics and Public Policy Center), Bruce Taylor (President and Chief Cousel,
 National Law Center for Children and Families), Teresa Collett, (Professor of
 Law, South Texas School of Law), and Jan LaRue.  Committee members presented
 the awards to the winning judges and accepted them "on their behalf."
 
     *AND THE WINNERS ARE ... *
 
     The Sour Lemon Award: For a decision that squeezes the free exercise of
 religion out of the First Amendment by misapplying the Establishment Clause.
     WINNER: The Third Circuit Court of Appeals.
     In C.H. v. Oliva: The Third Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a school's
 refusal to allow a first grade student to read to his class from his
 Beginner's Bible, even though the student's story had no recognizable
 religious content.  The teacher allowed other children to read their favorite
 story of appropriate "length and complexity" to fellow students.
 
     The "Invisible Ink" Award: For a decision in which a judge sees invisible
 words in the Constitution but can't see the words that are expressly stated.
     WINNER: The Supreme Court.
     In Cloer v. Gynecology Clinic, Inc., the Supreme Court denied review of a
 decision by the South Carolina Supreme Court, in which the court held that
 pro-life pastors were liable for private nuisance and civil conspiracy
 charges, without a showing that the pastors were engaging in any illegal
 activity.
 
     The See-No-Evil Award: For a decision in which a judge turns a blind eye
 to crime.
     WINNER: The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
     In Free Speech Coalition v. Reno, the Ninth Circuit struck down the
 federal Child Pornography Prevention Act of 1996, which expanded the
 definition of child pornography to include computer-generated images.
 
     The "Overruled!" Award: For a decision that substitutes a judge's own
 political ideology for that of the people or their representatives.
     WINNER: Federal District Judge Solomon Oliver.
 In Simmons-Harris v. Zelman, Judge Oliver struck down Cleveland's school
 voucher program, which had been upheld by the Ohio Supreme Court.
 
     The "In Contempt!" Award: For a decision so utterly without legal
 foundation that it shocks the conscience of the public and causes contempt for
 the judicial system.
     WINNER: The Vermont Supreme Court.
     In Baker v. Vermont, the Vermont Supreme Court held that the Vermont
 Constitution requires Vermont to extend to cohabitants of the same-sex the
 benefits and protections of marriage, and ordered the legislature to permit
 same-sex couples to marry or to create a separate domestic partner system.
 
     The Short Circuit Award: For a federal circuit court for a group of
 decisions that appear to have been made in the dark.
     WINNER:  The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
     1. Judges Kozinski, Sydney Thomas, and Illston, District Judge, sitting by
 designation: DiLoreto v. Downey Unified Sch. Dist.: The panel upheld a school
 district decision to exclude a private ad containing the Ten Commandments from
 a high school baseball field fence while allowing various other commercial
 ads.  The banned ad stated that it was sponsored by a private family trust and
 included "Meditate on These Principles to Live By."  The reason cited was to
 avoid "disruption" and a possible lawsuit.  The California Attorney General
 had issued an opinion stating that posting the ad would be legal.
     2. Judges Choy, Tashima, and Restani, Court of International Trade,
 sitting by designation: Planned Parenthood v. Lawall: The panel struck-down
 Arizona's statute requiring a minor seeking an abortion to obtain parental
 consent or judicial authorization.
     3. Judges Ferguson, Sydney Thomas, Molloy, District Judge, sitting by
 designation: Free Speech Coalition v. Reno: The panel struck-down the federal
 Child Pornography Prevention Act of 1996, which expanded the definition of
 child pornography to include computer generated images.
     4. Judges Betty Fletcher, Sydney Thomas, and Reinhardt: Schwenk v.
 Hartford: The panel held that transsexuals are covered under the "gender
 motivated violence" provision of the Violence Against Women Act.
 
     The Lifetime Achievement Award: To a judge whose career on the bench
 provides multiple examples of decisions meriting the above awards.
     WINNER: Judge Durke G. Thompson of the Montgomery County Circuit Court of
 Maryland. Judge Thompson drew a firestorm of criticism and a warning from the
 Maryland Judicial Disabilities Commission for directing a comment to the 11-
 year-old victim of a sex crime, "It takes two to tango." Thompson sentenced
 the 23-year-old offender to five years in prison but suspended all but 18
 months, of which he will likely serve only six months in the county jail.
 Thompson has a history of giving extremely light sentences to child molesters.
 
     For more information on the Court Jesters, call the FRC Press Office.
 
 

SOURCE Family Research Council
    WASHINGTON, June 30 /PRNewswire/ -- Commemorating what they think are the
 year's most outrageous judicial decisions, Family Research Council announced
 the winners of the Fourth Annual Court Jester Awards on June 29 in an evening
 ceremony at the National Press Club.  "The annual Court Jester Awards is a
 lighthearted roast to activist judges who violate the public trust by handing
 down decisions that advance their own political agendas rather than follow
 constitutional principles," said Jan LaRue, Senior Director for Legal Studies
 at Family Research Council and a member of the Court Jester Award Committee.
 "This year, there were so many ridiculous rulings, it was difficult to choose
 which judges most deserved to be called 'out of order.'"
     Over 28 nominated rulings were considered for Court Jester awards in seven
 different categories.  The final winners were chosen by a distinguished Awards
 Committee consisting of some of the nation's leading pro-family legal
 scholars, including: Phyllis Schlafly (President, Eagle Forum), Sam Casey
 (Executive Director, Christian Legal Society), Tom Jipping (Vice President,
 Free Congress Foundation), Alex Acosta, (Director, Project on the Judiciary,
 Ethics and Public Policy Center), Bruce Taylor (President and Chief Cousel,
 National Law Center for Children and Families), Teresa Collett, (Professor of
 Law, South Texas School of Law), and Jan LaRue.  Committee members presented
 the awards to the winning judges and accepted them "on their behalf."
 
     *AND THE WINNERS ARE ... *
 
     The Sour Lemon Award: For a decision that squeezes the free exercise of
 religion out of the First Amendment by misapplying the Establishment Clause.
     WINNER: The Third Circuit Court of Appeals.
     In C.H. v. Oliva: The Third Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a school's
 refusal to allow a first grade student to read to his class from his
 Beginner's Bible, even though the student's story had no recognizable
 religious content.  The teacher allowed other children to read their favorite
 story of appropriate "length and complexity" to fellow students.
 
     The "Invisible Ink" Award: For a decision in which a judge sees invisible
 words in the Constitution but can't see the words that are expressly stated.
     WINNER: The Supreme Court.
     In Cloer v. Gynecology Clinic, Inc., the Supreme Court denied review of a
 decision by the South Carolina Supreme Court, in which the court held that
 pro-life pastors were liable for private nuisance and civil conspiracy
 charges, without a showing that the pastors were engaging in any illegal
 activity.
 
     The See-No-Evil Award: For a decision in which a judge turns a blind eye
 to crime.
     WINNER: The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
     In Free Speech Coalition v. Reno, the Ninth Circuit struck down the
 federal Child Pornography Prevention Act of 1996, which expanded the
 definition of child pornography to include computer-generated images.
 
     The "Overruled!" Award: For a decision that substitutes a judge's own
 political ideology for that of the people or their representatives.
     WINNER: Federal District Judge Solomon Oliver.
 In Simmons-Harris v. Zelman, Judge Oliver struck down Cleveland's school
 voucher program, which had been upheld by the Ohio Supreme Court.
 
     The "In Contempt!" Award: For a decision so utterly without legal
 foundation that it shocks the conscience of the public and causes contempt for
 the judicial system.
     WINNER: The Vermont Supreme Court.
     In Baker v. Vermont, the Vermont Supreme Court held that the Vermont
 Constitution requires Vermont to extend to cohabitants of the same-sex the
 benefits and protections of marriage, and ordered the legislature to permit
 same-sex couples to marry or to create a separate domestic partner system.
 
     The Short Circuit Award: For a federal circuit court for a group of
 decisions that appear to have been made in the dark.
     WINNER:  The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
     1. Judges Kozinski, Sydney Thomas, and Illston, District Judge, sitting by
 designation: DiLoreto v. Downey Unified Sch. Dist.: The panel upheld a school
 district decision to exclude a private ad containing the Ten Commandments from
 a high school baseball field fence while allowing various other commercial
 ads.  The banned ad stated that it was sponsored by a private family trust and
 included "Meditate on These Principles to Live By."  The reason cited was to
 avoid "disruption" and a possible lawsuit.  The California Attorney General
 had issued an opinion stating that posting the ad would be legal.
     2. Judges Choy, Tashima, and Restani, Court of International Trade,
 sitting by designation: Planned Parenthood v. Lawall: The panel struck-down
 Arizona's statute requiring a minor seeking an abortion to obtain parental
 consent or judicial authorization.
     3. Judges Ferguson, Sydney Thomas, Molloy, District Judge, sitting by
 designation: Free Speech Coalition v. Reno: The panel struck-down the federal
 Child Pornography Prevention Act of 1996, which expanded the definition of
 child pornography to include computer generated images.
     4. Judges Betty Fletcher, Sydney Thomas, and Reinhardt: Schwenk v.
 Hartford: The panel held that transsexuals are covered under the "gender
 motivated violence" provision of the Violence Against Women Act.
 
     The Lifetime Achievement Award: To a judge whose career on the bench
 provides multiple examples of decisions meriting the above awards.
     WINNER: Judge Durke G. Thompson of the Montgomery County Circuit Court of
 Maryland. Judge Thompson drew a firestorm of criticism and a warning from the
 Maryland Judicial Disabilities Commission for directing a comment to the 11-
 year-old victim of a sex crime, "It takes two to tango." Thompson sentenced
 the 23-year-old offender to five years in prison but suspended all but 18
 months, of which he will likely serve only six months in the county jail.
 Thompson has a history of giving extremely light sentences to child molesters.
 
     For more information on the Court Jesters, call the FRC Press Office.
 
 SOURCE  Family Research Council