What Fresh Hell Is This?

October 26, 2009

Ignore the Post-Gazette and vote for Jack Panella for PA Supreme Court!

I'm being as charitable as possible when I say to the editorial board of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

Please! Put down the crack pipe!
(Or rename the paper. Oh, I don't know, something like "Trib Lite.")

Last week the P-G endorsed Lil Mayor Luke for the first time ever and now this week they've endorsed Judge Joan Orie Melvin, a Republican from Western PA, over Judge Jack A. Panella, a Democrat from Eastern PA.

In their endorsement, the P-G says:
Both have risen through the legal ranks, both have had distinguished careers and both are ranked highly recommended by the Pennsylvania Bar Association. In truth, either one would make an excellent Supreme Court justice.
So why do they give the nod to Orie Melvin? They chalk it up to wanting a judge from the West and say that they're "strike[ing] a small but important blow for gender balance by keeping the number of female justices at two."

Now anyone who reads this blog regularly knows that I'm a feminist. They know that I've supported numerous women for office. They know that I defended Sarah Palin against those attacks that were purely sexist in nature.

That said, if it ever comes down to a male candidate who is good on issues that I care about versus a female candidate who isn't so hot on the issues, I have to go with the candidate who I agree with -- regardless of their gender -- every time.

So how does Judge Orie Melvin stack up on the issues? (And, yes, if you don't know already, the Judge is the sister of PA State Senator Jane Orie.)

According to the American Family Association of PA (courtesy of Sue from Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents) based on "Court Cases/Candidate Responses/Outside Sources" Orie Melvin is anti choice, anti gay, anti separation of Church and State and believes that Antonin Scalia is the Supreme Court Judge who most closely demonstrates her judicial philosophy.

Wow, P-G! Are you auditioning to become the Trib?

And, since half of the P-G's reasoning is based on gender, how exactly has Orie Melvin ruled on behalf of the distaff set?

Again from Sue, we know that Orie Melvin had no problem with a physician having sex with a woman he was treating for anxiety and depression which caused his patient’s psychological/emotional symptoms to worsen.

We also know this from the Pittsburgh City Paper:
He cites the 2007 case Toney v. Chester County Hospital, in which a pregnant woman received an ultrasound and was told her baby was fine. Opting for natural childbirth, she gave birth to a child with multiple severe disabilities. She wanted to sue for negligent infliction of emotional distress, but her suit was challenged. Panella and the Superior Court majority ruled that the case could go forward. (Her case will be heard by the state Supreme Court Dec. 2.) Orie Melvin was one of two dissenters.

Orie Melvin won't comment on the case, but counters Panella's example with another pregnancy case. In that suit, in which a mother alleged that an HMO's advice delayed her access to care, Orie Melvin voted to reverse a lower-court ruling that would have tossed the case out.
Let me decode that for you. In the first case someone who, let's say, is very anti choice and is funded by anti choicers would not want to think that any birth is anything other than a blessing from God. They also might think that the misread ultrasound was also a blessing because it might prevent a woman from making a truly informed decision about continuing her pregnancy.

Surely all this is enough to make many not want to vote for Orie Melvin, but wait, there's more.

There's also the issue of redistricting (which is why this race is getting even minimal attention).

Also from the City Paper:
From a partisan standpoint, there's another big issue at stake in this election: redistricting. After each U.S. Census, the state's new population figures force the legislature to change the boundaries of election districts, for Congressional seats and for both branches of the state legislature. The party in power often gets to redraw the map, with results that typically shore up their political advantage.

The state Supreme Court often appoints the last member of the five-person redistricting panel -- and the court may also rule on the fairness of those lines once drawn. After the 1990 district revamp, for example, 25 cases were filed against the plan in the state Supreme Court.

Democrats believe the court's choice in 2000 helped gerrymander U.S. House districts in the GOP's favor. The U.S. Supreme Court -- in a ruling that divided justices along party lines -- eventually ruled against the Democrats. State political observers are bracing for more such fights, especially since the state is likely to lose at least one Congressional seat after the 2010 Census.
How can we expect the "genial and fair-minded" Orie Melvin to rule with respect to any possible redistricting matters? From Gort42 (via Spork by way of Crooks and Liars):
In her previous visit to Wilkes-Barre in May she gave a long rambling speech to the local GOP faithful. In that speech she listed as one of her selling points was the upcoming redistricting after the 2010 Census telling the partisan crowd that they needed a Republican on the court to rule in favor of Republicans in any challenges to whatever plan emerges.

So much for Judges being above politics.
And, if all that wasn't enough, there's this web ad which was running on GrassrootsPA and which was paid for by the PA GOP:

The ad fliped from the above to a blue banner that said, "Hit them where it hurts. The voting booth! On Nov. 3rd, Vote for Supreme Court candidate Joan Orie Melvin and your Republican judicial ticket."

The ad has since been modified (no more mention of Obama or the hammer and sickle ☭) and Orie Melvin certainly did not put up the ad herself BUT, it is her party who ran the ad and it is the party that she represents.

At this point, you have to ask yourself how much of this did the P-G know when they vetted and endorsed Orie Melvin?

Now that you know all about her, I suggest you go directly to http://votejackpanella.com and donate whatever you can and vote for him on election day.

This race is extremely close. PA doesn't need our own Scalia on our Supreme Court -- even if she's a she from Pittsburgh.


JenEngland said...

This is UNBELIEVABLE. I actually think this might be THE occasion to hit caps lock. I mean, sure if you want a conservative wack job who will set women's rights back 50 years, then yes, she is your candidate. But to actually cite gender as a reason to choose her over Panella, you are right, someone at the PG must be smoking crack. Or smoking waaaaay too much of the wacky tabacky because I can think of no other sound reason for them to endorse her. I literally want to scream.

Richmond K. Turner said...

It's not like the Post-Gazette is alone here, or that they are morphing into a mirror image to the Trib. The Phildelphia Inquirer has also endorsed her, and they have certainly never been accused of being too Scaife-like.

So this is not merely the Post-Gazette automatically siding with the Western Pennsylvanian against someone from the east section of the state, because the Eastern establishment press also have problems with Panella. While calling him "capable and equally highly rated", The Inqy also expressed legitimate concerns about the fact that he "has fewer years on the bench", and that his campaign has been disproportionately funded by special interest groups.

It would seem that the state's largest -- and left-leaning -- newspapers are in agreement here.

Maria said...

"So this is not merely the Post-Gazette automatically siding with the Western Pennsylvanian against someone from the east section of the state..."

Even when the P-G itself says that that was a key factor?

"Two other factors are key to us.

One is parochial. All things otherwise being equal, we tend to favor a candidate from the west over one from the east -- the big population centers of the east have no trouble rallying support for their own. On that score, advantage Judge Melvin."

Ms. Monongahela, Ms. Chief Editor said...

Joan lost me years ago when I was writing a story, essentially, about working moms and the law for Pittsburgh City Paper -- and she wouldn't return my call.

Ms. Monongahela, Ms. Chief Editor said...

I should probably add that one of the reasons I wanted to speak to her, specifically, was because of the number of children she has -- 6. Very disappointed that she wouldn't participate. Perhaps, because if I'd have asked her how she did it, she might not have an answer that conservative Republicans with traditional values would have liked ... ?

spork_incident said...

his campaign has been disproportionately funded by special interest groups.

Am I safe in assuming that "special interest groups" means "liberal groups"?

And am I also safe in assuming that conservative groups, by definition, aren't loathsome "special interest groups"?

A Spork in the Drawer

EdHeath said...

You know, if it were a choice between a politically partisan liberal and a politically disinterested legal scholar, I would say back the non-partisan person. But this is a choice between two partisans. Pennsylvania NOW has endorsed the male in this race, and has evidently not endorsed Ms. Melvin. Now, I assume Panella would likely rule in favor of Democrats if there were challenges in redistricting following the next census, but Ms Melvin has said outright she would. She is endorsed by business groups, firearm owners, pro-life groups, all of which I think already have sufficient resources and do not need pet judges. Since I generally back liberal and/or progressive causes (like gun control and choice), I will be voting for Panella.

So it is pretty disturbing that the PG is taking a conservative partisan stance in this election.

Jude Rene Montarsi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jude Rene Montarsi said...

I think the Post-Gazette has tried to be fair in their coverage of Orie-Melvin. I also think both papers have endorsed the wrong candidate. The fact that both the Philadelphia Inquirer (which is hardly liberal these days) and the PG have endorsed her Richard Turner's "50 Million Can't Be Wrong Fallacy" suggests to me the following: (1)Either a lack of journalistic scrutiny about the rumors of her involvement in case-fixing on the Superior Court or that the PG does not want to risk her wrath after she is on the High Court. See Melvin vs Doe and the ACLU's brief in that case.

She will will most likely win the seat and THAT is terrifying to me. Merely because she may have more experience on the bench, it does not automatically follow that her "business ethics" are better than Jack Panella's judicial philosophy.

Panella is not necessarily without some problems, but overall he is far better than Orie-Melvin and certainly is centered in the same century as the rest of us.

The corruption in this state's political machine is APPALLING! If you want to talk about experience, at least Panella has experience rooting a few corrupt judges, to his credit.

Our judiciary is beginning to resemble a cross between that in Weimar Germany and an Antebellum plantation. The every movement of Orie-Melvin and her sister Senator Jane Orie, who happens to sit on the Judiciary Committee (amongst some other choice committees) should be given constant and heightened scrutiny by the press and using a high-powered microscope might not be enough to keep them clean.

"Thug" is the most suitable one syllable word in my vocabulary to describe this woman's character. Hardly suitable for the highest court in the state!

As for me,If she wins the election, my house will on the market! No joke! Pennsylvania is already undergoing "The Shock Doctrine" but people have no vocabulary to articulate what they intuitively know: Something is very rotten here.