Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Captain Ed explains it all

Right here, with regard to the new attack on Romney about his "Willie Horton" moment. In short, a thread story over at the Free Republic Boston Globe is claiming that Mitt Romney was responsible for a Willie Horton-esque criminal release. See, they point to a story about a judge he appointed to the Massachusetts courts, and the fact that the judge allowed this guy to be released. But, as they say, the devil's int he details, and Captain Ed has those details that were conveniently overlooked:

This, however, differs from the Horton issue with Michael Dukakis in two important ways. First, judicial appointments in Massachusetts work very differently than at the federal level. As with New York City, a judicial panel recommends a few candidates for each opening to the Governor, who rarely if ever works outside the system. These candidates get reviewed by the panel through their records, but with their names removed, in order to ensure fairness. Tuttman would have appeared to be a good candidate; she had a good track record as a prosecutor, and had won convictions in some higher-profile cases.

Romney's critics then complained that he hadn't appointed more women to the bench. He pressed the Judicial Nominating Commission to provide more potential female candidates for appointments. This demonstrates that Romney had only small latitude in selecting these candidates.

The Horton incident stuck to Dukakis for other reasons. Horton raped a woman and stabbed her fiance after being released on a work-furlough program, even though he had already committed murder and had a life sentence. Dukakis had supported this program as governor, claiming it as an important tool for criminal rehabilitation, while critics castigated him and the state for allowing lifers with no possibility of release outside of clemency into the furlough program. (Horton had been sentenced to two consecutive life terms plus 85 years.) In fact, Dukakis had vetoed a bill prohibiting the entry of lifers into the rehab program -- which would have kept Horton behind bars where he belonged.

Romney's appointment in Tuttman certainly turned out badly, but one has to understand the context of that appointment. The nomination process has burdensome limits, and the selection of a successful prosecutor for that slot would certainly have given some confidence that the new judge would err on the side of caution from the bench. Tragically, that hope was dashed and two people have had their lives senselessly ended -- but that responsibility falls on the shoulders of the judge herself, and of course the murderer.

Just a few short months ago, Ben Smith of Politico penned a bomb-throwing column on Rudy Giuliani's judicial appointments in New York, and failed to note how the process actually worked there. Again we have a question of judicial appointments, and whether or not to the two front-runners can be trusted on this important platform point.

Both men have stated that they would appoint jurists of the constructionist/textualist/originalist stripe, and there's no reason not to believe them. Again, the jurists they appointed had little to do with Constitutional issues outside of their state's purview. In fact, Giuliani's judges were for the criminal courts; Romney was able to appoint jurists to the state supreme court. If he had placed an activist jurist up on that court, I'd be a tad more worried about him appointing judges to the federal district courts, appellate courts, and Supreme Court. But he hasn't. As for Rudy, the people that would help him make judicial picks outweighs what opponents have to say on this issue. Ted Olsen's a good man, a former solicitor general, and would most certainly be asked his advice on a choice.

Bomb-throwing, like this article today on Romney, is a part of election politics. But if his opponents want to score some points, they're going to have to come up with something better than this. Damaging mud has to stick, and if it doesn't, then you wasted an opportunity. Worse, you add doubt to your accusations the next time one is lobbed in the direction of a candidate; people will take the attack with more than just a few grains of salt.

Additionally, this sort of an attack is asinine because, like Ben Smith, someone clearly didn't do their homework with regard to how much input Romney had in the appointment process. If they had, then this story never would have seen the light of day except within the MSM where idiots daily pat themselves on the back for stories that aren't really news at all.

Publius II

UPDATE: I made a mistake in stating the story came from Free Republic. I have made the correction above. It originated in the Globe. I had confused this one with a Free Republic thread I was reading on the Romney push polling story. My apologies to readers.


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