News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


Court system needs philosophical balance

Court of Civil Appeals candidate Ray Vaughan has a message that all Alabama voters should hear, even if they don't intend to vote for him Nov. 7

The appellate court judges, he says, are now in the pocket of big business interests.

"You now have judges who are activists for big corporate business. There are judges sitting there rewriting the law and being as activist as possible," he said last week in an editorial board meeting at THE DAILY.

"Folks got in a bidding war for a while. With the trial lawyers winning for a while and the business folks winning for a while," he said.

He's a Democrat who is trying to win a seat on a Republican court, so what he says needs to be taken in context.

Still, his opinions are based on "been there, done that" as perhaps the state's top environmental lawyer. "Our environmental laws are the weakest in the nation. As weak as they are, our courts have rewritten them - judicial activism of the worst kind - to make things worse," he said.

"The best judges for me to be in front of are true conservative Republicans. They understand that if the law says, 'Protect this,' then you protect it."

He makes a good point about the judges. Republican appellate court candidates did a good job of selling the conservative mantra that their job is to interpret law, not make it. Many under-qualified candidates ran on the GOP ticket because polls showed they had a better chance of winning as Republicans, and not because of a deeply held, scholarly conservative philosophy. His point is that they are not committed to true conservative principles.

Our form of representative government tends to swing to the extremes before settling on middle ground. Voters should consider Mr. Vaughan's assessment of the judicial process and decide if it's time to seek the middle ground and give our court system balance. nations that will be less forgiving after Sunday's test.

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