The sorest losers

The Madison County Record Feb. 11, 2006, 9:59am

Given that everyone doesn't agree on everything all of the time, we civilized societies need a means to settle the many policy disputes where there's no middle ground in which to drive a stake.

That "means"-- in democracies like ours-- is called the "election."

We all get a say and the majority rules. We'll go out on a limb to call it the fairest system in the world. Not that everyone agrees with us.

A handful of left-wing interest groups, including Common Cause and Citizen Action/Illinois, are still sore over Southern Illinois voters' choice of Justice Lloyd Karmeier to represent them on the State Supreme Court.

Check that. They're still profoundly upset over the resounding election of Judge Karmeier, who ran in 2004 as an alternative to a long line of local judges who made it their prerogative to write laws from the bench and enable "jackpot justice," grossly enriching an elite class of Metro-East plaintiff's attorneys to the great expense of our local economies.

These groups, backed by trial lawyers for whom willing activist judges are part of the revenue model, are now complaining to the state Judicial Inquiry Board that Karmeier is biased because companies with cases before the court donated to his campaign effort.

Here's betting these so-called "good government" groups wouldn't be crying conflict had his Madison County Machine-backed opponent, Gordon Maag, proved victorious.

That so many lawyers gave so much cash to Maag's in the 2004 election is, in their case, unmentionable. Apparently it's only a conflict when the defendants donate. The guys suing them-- they're merely exercising their First Amendment rights.

That's why Common Cause didn't hold a press conference in 2003 to protest plaintiff's lawyer Steve Tillery's donations to Madison County Judge Nick Byron, who subsequently awarded him $2 billion in fees as part of his famous Philip Morris/Price verdict.

And to our knowledge, these groups aren't planning a sit-in protest over Third Circuit Judge George Moran, who reportedly accepted St. Louis Cardinals tickets from Tillery, though he regularly heard his cases.

Such discriminating taste exposes these charges as nothing more than a sour grapes political charade. Not that it's likely to win Karmeier's detractors any more support.

Depicting large companies as nefarious puppeteers looking to takeover the courts might resonate with the Socialist Industrial Workers of the World, but it doesn't rally the masses in this era of record-low unemployment and mutual funds.

People know there's a major level of trust involved with the election of any public official. Only the grandest conspiracy theorist sweats every campaign donation as a quid pro quo. Just as they did his trial lawyer-backed predecessors, voters can and will judge Justice Karmeier on one thing alone-- his very own actions.

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