“It’s time for Judge Wake to retire. He’s an embarrassment to the legal community.”
“There are third-year law students . . . that can write a more coherent opinion than the one that he put forward.”
“He stopped being a judge and started being a politician."
“This is an activist judge."
It sounds like something from one of Trump's 3 a.m. tweet storms, but it's not. Those quotes
came from our generally mild-mannered, soft-spoken Governor Ducey. That scares the hell out of me. It means the take-no-prisoners Republican strategy outlined by Newt Gingrich, honed to a razor's edge by the Tea Party and wielded like a bludgeon by Trump will not end when our current president leaves, or is driven out of office. Trump's diseased style, his politics of personal annihilation, has metastasized. It has spread over the Republican body politic. Mild-mannered Doug Ducey is the latest politician to be infected.
The reason others have adopted Trump's style is, it works. Trump has managed to neutralize or destroy his enemies and make others too fearful to challenge him. Why shouldn't Ducey and other Republicans around the country give it a try? And if it works once and there are no negative consequences, why not try it again?
Who is this politically motivated, activist judge who is an embarrassment to the legal community? He is Neil Wake, appointed by George W. Bush with recommendations from then-Senators John Kyl and John McCain. As a private lawyer, he helped Arizona's Republicans argue their case for redistricting. As a judge, he has made a variety of decisions, some favorable to Republicans, some to Democrats.
Wake is a down-the-middle judge with Republican leanings. But Ducey wasn't satisfied to say, "I disagree with Wake's recent decision," or even "Wake made a terrible decision." In Trumpian fashion, Ducey attacked the man's competence and character because of one unfavorable call. That's all it takes.
My fear is, this type of politics of personal annihilation will become a regular feature of Republican strategy, from president to dog catcher. It will be another part of Trump's sick legacy. And if it's effective, will Democrats come to think Michelle Obama's notion that "When they go low, we go high" is a quaint leftover from the Obama era? Will Dems learn that "When they go low, we have to go as low, or lower"? That kind of political arms race is frightening to contemplate.
This post has been updated. It stated earlier that the court decision would block Prop 123 funding from the State Land Trust. The court decision does not block that funding.