November 02, 2010 1:32 pm ET - by Anne-Elizabeth Johnson
The Tea Party is at it again — this time challenging a Bush-appointed federal judge. Nicholas Purpura and Donald Laster, Jr., two individuals involved with the Tea Party, recently initiated a lawsuit pro se — without an attorney representing them — in an attempt to halt the implementation of the Affordable Care Act in their home state of New Jersey. In addition to a request for injunctive relief, they also sought reimbursement for fees and costs associated with the lawsuit they initiated. The complaint reads more like an editorial, as opposed to a legal document, and fails to mention relevant legal precedent:
While much of the political dialog is dominated by an agenda to "fundamentally transform" America, we the Plaintiffs (citizens) of the State of New Jersey are cognizant as should be this Honorable Court of the rhetoric and real motives behind this legislation (Act H.R. 3590) and dismiss this unconstitutional command-and-control government expansion that will effectively shred and destroy the Constitution of these United States forever.
United States District Court Judge Freda L. Wolfson recently denied their request for a temporary restraining order, ruling that they failed to make a showing of the prerequisites necessary to establish a case for granting such an order. Ultimately, they didn't show that they would suffer irreparable harm due to the enactment of the provisions mentioned in their complaint.
A few days ago, Purpura and Laster re-applied for a temporary restraining order, which was denied again by the judge for the same reasons. Now, these individuals are calling for the judge to recuse herself from the case, claiming that she has "twist[ed] and misrepresent[ed] facts" in court documents. If the Tea Partiers had done their research, or perhaps hired a lawyer, they would've known that judges have wide discretion to deny orders they find to be frivolous or that don't meet evidentiary burdens. Judges typically don't recuse themselves unless the case involves conflicts of interest or gross negligence.
Not to mention, Judge Wolfson was nominated to the court by President George W. Bush and described by conservative Senator Orrin Hatch — who shepherded through the confirmations of conservative judges including Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia — as "a great choice for the federal court."
The Tea Party-led attack on Judge Wolfson's judicial credibility appears spiteful and not based on ethical authority. If every person requested that judges recuse themselves because they didn't make a favorable ruling, judges would never get any work done and our court system would be clogged with wasteful claims like this one. The petitioners may disagree with the Judge's decision, but it is disingenuous and wrong to smear a judge because of it. Even as the Tea Partiers rail against "government waste" they're apparently comfortable with wasting taxpayer dollars with baseless accusations.
Copyright © 2010 Media Matters Action Network. All rights reserved.