May 10, 2006

ABA's Big-Time Liberal

Here’s another observation about Professor Bainbridge’s discovery that, of the nine members of the ABA Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary who have made federal campaign contributions since 2002, six contributed mainly to Democrats. One of those six is John Payton. One need not look at his campaign contributions to know that he is a big-time liberal activist. He is on the board of and has served as co-chair of the ultra-liberal Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights – both the national organization and the DC Chapter. He has devoted much of his career to defending racial preferences, arguing the pro-preferences side in two of the biggest affirmative action cases heard by the Supreme Court – Gratz v. Bollinger and Richmond v. Croson – and filing various pro-preference amicus briefs. He has also waged war against “Big Tobacco.”

The future of affirmative action and the other causes that Payton has devoted his life to depend very much on the ideological composition of the federal bench. John Payton would have to be super-human for that not to affect the ratings he gives to the President’s judicial nominees as a member of the Standing Committee. Payton is an impressive litigator and a nice guy, but he’s about as capable of being objective about Bush’s nominees as I am.