Thursday, April 5, 2012

Why did Judge Smith lecture Obama? Because he simply ignored a court order the judge had approved.

Most lawyers trying a case abide by the maxim: Don’t piss off the judge. 

President Obama disregarded that when he lectured the Supreme Court not to overturn the health care law.  Indirectly the President was challenging the entire judiciary and it struck a raw nerve with Judge Jerry Smith, of the 5th Circuit Appeals Court.  Judge Smith had, less than two years earlier, rejected, in a 2 to 1 decision, the Interior Department request to stay a lower court order lifting the offshore drilling moratorium (Hornbeck Offshore Services LLC v. Salazar) – thus requiring the moratorium lifted. 

In one of the most blatant examples thumbing its nose at the courts, the administration simply ignored that order.  After the administration’s appeal was rejected, they rescinded the original moratorium order (ostensibly complying with the court), but almost immediately after, replaced it with another essentially identical order, affecting precisely the same rigs in the first order.  When the second moratorium was lifted in October, still no drilling permits had been issued.

The original judge of the 5th Circuit, Martin Feldman landed on the administration three and a half months later.  He issued a contempt citation against Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar citing a “determined disregard” of his order.  And he added to the insult by requiring Interior to pay Hornbeck’s legal fees.

Today Attorney General Eric Holder sent his single spaced, three page answer to Judge Smith on the Supreme Court’s ability to overturn legislation it has judged unconstitutional.  We don’t know what it said, but it should have included:

Don’t piss off the judge
Don’t piss off the judge
Don’t piss off the judge…

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