I suppose I'd be a little more sympathetic to the ideal of a chilling effect on the bench if the 5th Circuit wasn't famous for being so batsh*t crazy. But it is, so when one of the Republican activist judges pitched a little hissy fit over the president's remarks earlier this week, well, I find it hard to work up any sympathy:
A federal judge on Tuesday expressed concern over President Obama’s comments on the Supreme Court’s consideration of the health-care law and demanded a letter explaining whether Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. believes federal judges have the authority to strike down federal laws.
Judge Jerry Smith, a Republican appointee on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, was part of a three-judge panel hearing arguments in a lawsuit over the Affordable Care Act when he issued his unusual demand, saying the Justice Department must submit the three-page, single-spaced letter by noon Thursday, according to a lawyer who was in the courtroom. The demand was first reported by CBS News.
The lawyer said Smith cited Obama’s statements Monday, when in unusually blunt language, the president said overturning the law would amount to an “unprecedented, extraordinary step” of judicial activism.
The judge “said the president has been saying that unelected branches of government shouldn’t be activist and strike down federal laws,’’ according to the lawyer, who spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid antagonizing either side.
A court order cited the letter but did not give details. The other two judges hearing the case are also Republican appointees.
As Think Progress points out, the 5th Circuit appellate court is the right-wing equivalent of DisneyWorld:
The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit may be the most ideological court in the country.
When the oil industry’s allies in Congress wanted to protect the industry from drilling lawsuits, they passed a bill trying to force those lawsuits into thereliably industry-friendly Fifth Circuit. When a high school cheerleader sued her school district after it made her cheer for her alleged rapist, the Fifth Circuit ordered the alleged rape victim to pay more than $40,000.
When one of the court’s few progressives asked a series of probing questions to a prosecutor during a court hearing, Fifth Circuit Chief Judge Edith Jones yelled at him to “shut up” and asked him if he would like to leave the courtroom.