Judging the Judges: Readers Reflect on the Powers That Be


Cruel and Unusual?

I am so relieved that Judge McLaughlin is retiring [“The Chamber,” Voice, March 2]. I have had direct experience with the judge, and I know firsthand the damage that occurs from his lengthy, unfair sentences — especially to those with a psychiatric disability. He gave my godson a twenty-year sentence for three low-level incidents. The article paints a picture of a strict, punitive judge who is consumed by his own power to punish and control people’s lives without ever including the human element into his sentencing decisions. Unfortunately, the article omits the drastic human toll that follows with long prison sentences. As he says at the end of the article, Judge McLaughlin does not want to be held responsible for the harm he has done to people, but I know I can never forgive him for his extreme cruelty and unfairness in his courtroom.

— Leah Gitter

Hypocrite Much?

In a speech on the Senate floor in June 1992, Mr. Biden, then the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said there should be a different standard for a Supreme Court vacancy “that would occur in the full throes of an election year” [“Wake Up, America!Voice, March 2]. The president should follow the example of “a majority of his predecessors” and forgo naming a replacement, Mr. Biden said. If he goes forward before then, the Senate should wait to consider the nomination. “Some will criticize such a decision and say that it was nothing more than an attempt to save a seat on the court in hopes that a Democrat will be permitted to fill it, but that would not be our intention,” Mr. Biden said at the time. “It would be our pragmatic conclusion that once the political season is under way, and it is, action on a Supreme Court nomination must be put off until after the election campaign is over. That is what is fair to the nominee and essential to the process. Otherwise, it seems to me,” he added, “we will be in deep trouble as an institution.”

— Paul Raymond

Look at the Law

Are you saying you agree with Biden, or are you just doing a “Gotcha, you guys do it, too!” thing? Because my response as a progressive is, it was wrong then, it’s wrong now — end of story. Why do certain constitutional duties of a president have a premature expiration date and others don’t? If the president required war powers in an election year, would the argument follow that it’s too politically charged an atmosphere and such a determination would need to wait until next year? If the Senate wants to hem and haw and slow-pedal whoever the president nominates, that’s on them. (They would do that regardless.) But it’s stupid to suggest that somehow the rules should be different because people are campaigning to be the next president at a given time, whether it’s Biden or McConnell doing the suggesting.

— Andrew Hershberger

Don’t Be Hasty

Why not wait until after the Democratic primaries are settled for this vapid and predictable take on why progressives need to tuck their tails and capitulate [“It’s the History, Stupid!Voice, February 17]? To quote Bill Clinton, I’m sticking with Bernie until the last dog dies and won’t entertain a discussion about backing Hillary until she’s secured the nomination. As for Nader, he wasn’t in the Democratic primary against Gore. The comparison is pointless.

— George Colombo

Democrats Aren’t Any Better

This “the sky is falling” tripe must have been ghostwritten by Chelsea Clinton. Since this guy believes the fate worse than death is electing a conservative, what and who does he think H. Clinton is? He writes like he hasn’t seen eight years of Bill “I Feel Your Pain” Clinton — you know, the one who gutted Glass-Steagall and turned Wall Street into a Vegas casino — or Barack “Yes, I Can” Obama, who wrote the banks a fat check as soon as he was sworn in, deported more families than Bush, and declared open season on the world by upping the drone kill quota. Yeah, we need the Democrats to save us.

— Ben Ferreira

Wait for the Votes

What a piece of nonsense. Why does the Voice want to push voters into accepting the Clinton shoved down our throats barely before a few delegates have been counted?

— Laura Wilson

Good Riddance, Humphrey

Thank God Nixon became president and not Humphrey. HHH was a decent guy, really love him — but if he had been president, he couldn’t have reached out to Beijing the way Nixon did. And LBJ did the right thing in fighting in Vietnam. If America had left Vietnam alone then, it would have become no different from North Korea today.

— Yeoh Oon Chuan

HRC: Kind of Like FDR?

I can’t believe some of you. Sure, Clinton is far from ideal. But compared to ANY of the dangerous fascists on the right, she’s practically FDR! Don’t hand them a victory by throwing a tantrum if Bernie can’t make it.

— Michael Fitz-Gibbons

Write In? Right On.

No way I’m voting for HRC. If she wins conservative history WILL repeat itself. How can anyone trust her? I’m not seeing this big liberal “for all the people” person that she claims to be. I won’t vote for her “nineteenth cousin” (really) Donald Trump, but I won’t be voting for her either. We’ve got to move away from the two-party mentality. I’ll be writing in Bernie Sanders. If all of his supporters do this, the possibility that he becomes president increases and this could become a reality.

— Frances Markiewicz

Right to Choose

The lives of women are at stake in this election [“Feel the Yern,” Voice, February 10]. Planned Parenthood and reproductive rights are on the line. If you call yourself a feminist, you cannot allow any of those assholes on the Republican ticket to win. It gave me chills watching Rubio calmly explain in his eerie monotone that rape victims and incest victims WILL have their babies. If Bernie’s supporters don’t vote…then he won’t win. And if for some reason he does become the nominee? I will vote for him…because I am voting for all those young women who deserve the right to their bodies.

— Natasha Van Der Ven

Followers Don’t Equal Votes

My biggest concern with millennials is that many of them seem to think that an election is won on social media — that you can help win the election by being the snarkiest person on Twitter. Elections are won by whoever gets the most people to vote for them. That’s it. That’s the only criterion.

In 2004, when Bush could have/should have been defeated, it was difficult to get college-age people to understand that elections are won by getting people to vote. They were all caught in the headlights of the internet and the flashy tech and seemed to think that’s all it took to win.

The most important lesson I learned in 2004 is if you want to be an activist to get your candidate elected president, you need to plan to DIY everything — education about the candidate, voter registration, everything. The local Democratic Party office cares nada about the presidential race. If you organize your own event/rally with speakers, bands, etc., wallpaper the town with flyers, set up a voter registration table, and invite the local party office to set up a table (for free), they probably won’t show up.

— Egbert O’Reilly