Who wants fair judges anyway?

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Make no mistake: The Founders' independent judiciary is under assault.

AS RONALD REAGAN said in 1980, "There you go again."

In America's broken two-party system what is a terrible calamity one term turns into the best thing since shirt pockets in the next term.

The only thing that changes is which party is in charge.

It is the blindest of political blind spots, when the political parties insist something is horrible, un-American, destructive for democracy if an opponent does it - oh, but it's perfectly in order if your own guys do it.

CASE IN POINT: USA Today reports the big donor network controlled by Charles and David Koch is leaning all over Republican U.S. senators to do away with the so-called "blue-slip rule."

That's a more than century-old Senate practice that allows a home-state senator to "blue slip" - really, it means blackball - a nominee to the federal bench in the senator's territory. It has been used for decades by Republicans and Democrats alike to gum up the works when a proposed federal appointee is found objectionable for some reason, Or, for that matter, for no particular reason.

The donor network wants that practice scrapped, because Republicans now control the White House and the Senate and want to mold the courts to their image. But it's a safe bet the network would fight to the death to preserve the blue-slip rule if Democrats were in charge of picking judges.

IN FACT, DURING President Barack Obama's turn in office, scores of federal court vacancies were bottled up by Republicans who wanted to make sure the Democrat did not get to make the appointments. That, too, suited the purpose of politics if not justice. Likewise, when President George W. Bush held office, Democrats made his appointments move slower than molasses in winter. Left-wingers saw nothing wrong with thwarting Bush.

Like the right wing saw nothing wrong with throwing sawdust into the judicial gearbox if it kept Obama from making appointments.

But now?

"Having a home-state senator have the ability to slow down the process, in our opinion, doesn't make sense under the constitution," a Koch spokesman told USA Today.

Think that quote would be exactly the same if, let's say, Democrats started rolling up majorities in 2018?

No. We don't think so either.

THERE ARE TWO THINGS going on here that should enrage Americans.

1. The political parties are infected with selective ethics. Simple logic dictates if something is wrong for one party, it can't be right for the other one. Down that road lies tyranny.

2. Underlying this issue and others related to both state and federal courts is the increasing determination of the parties and their big-dollar masters to scrub away judicial independence. The parties do not want fair referees. They want a rigged game, in which reliable ideologues are seated on the bench awaiting cases to be decided in accord with their political sponsors.

The winners in that system will be the party in power and the buyers of influence.

The losers? Well, that's you, dear readers.

THE FOUNDERS - a pretty smart bunch - feared "factions" and did everything they could to establish a system of checks and balances in hopes of thwarting those with a mind to seize a monopoly on power. Odds are those Founders would stand aghast over current efforts by political power brokers to capture the courts and break judges to the partisan harness.

The Senate does have a lot of arcane rules that can seem to make little sense. There is, however, a method to that madness. The Founders viewed the House of Representatives as the body closest to the hot passions of the people, expecting it to be the more volatile and emotional side of Congress. The Founders expected the Senate to be the house of caution, of deep deliberation, where passions cooled and reason had a better chance of coming out on top.

Apparently, the Founders never envisioned a time like the present, with two political parties locked in a no-quarter battle for supremacy. There's no room for collegiality - or even non-situational ethics - in today's system, and we are all the worse as a nation for it.

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