This June, across the state people will be gathering to cast their votes in the Presidential Election. I vote in every election, in Virginia Avenue Park, my polling place, because I believe it is important to participate in the process. A process that is largely played out by now, but needs everyone to participate in order for it to work.
Most of us who are paying even scant attention to the spectacle of this year’s Republican presidential primaries know that it is now essentially going to be Trump vs. Clinton, with a slim shot of Trump vs. Sanders; but my money is on Hillary pulling this one out.
The state of our democracy has been the topic of much debate, with many declaring it on the edge of demise thanks to the antics of the Republicans, and I can’t say that I agree. Though I certainly fear the difficulties that continued obstructionism on the Right will bring, I also see the machinery of the Republic is still operating for the most part.
It’s stressed and strained to be sure. First off the Senate’s refusal to hold a confirmation hearing on an indisputably qualified Supreme Court justice is appalling in its partisan pandering. The absence of a tie breaking Justice means that the Supreme Court is hobbled in doing its duty to decide cases that it feels are of great import.
For a country of our size, we have 860 total federal judgeships, from Supreme Court down to the District Courts. There are currently 87 vacancies on the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal, District Courts and Specialty Courts. Of these 28 are considered to be Judicial Emergencies, meaning the vacancy is over 18 months old and the average caseload is between 500 and 700 per judge, or any vacancy where the average caseload is over 700.
Think about that, 10 percent of our courts are empty, not being used, not helping to resolve disputes, not participating in the wheels of our democracy. Almost one third, 32 percent of our judiciary is in an emergency state.
What caused this situation? Obstructionism on the part of the Republican Senators. There is certainly no lack of qualified applicants for these positions. The Obama administration has been diligent in vetting and submitting for confirmation applicants whose curricula vitae satisfies by any objective standard the educational and vocational backgrounds that would make for good judges.
The refusal by Senate Judiciary committee Chairman Chuck Grassley to hold hearings and move the process along should be grounds for censure by the Senate leadership, if not impeachment, for his dereliction of duty in my opinion. Our Senator Dianne Feinstein, is also letting California down by not being more vocal in demanding that the Committee act and the Senate vote. She could be much more vocal, as she is in matters of domestic violence, when it suits her needs for publicity.
Our government works when people participate, when we call on our Senators to act, when we demand of them allegiance to their sworn obligations, and when we vote them in or out. The presidential primary is but one step in the march to a working government. Whether you vote for Hillary, Bernie, Donald or even Ted, your participation is needed to voice the thoughts and feelings of the electorate.
If you haven’t checked your registration lately you can do so here: www.LaVote.net. There have been many who thought they were registered Independent, but through a misunderstanding actually ended up registered in the American Independent Party which is a far right political party of the United States that was established in 1967. You have until May 23 to register and/or correct your party affiliation.
We need to all participate, if we don’t, the forces of doing nothing take over, and we end up with a stagnant and rotting republic.
As the saying goes, all that is required for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing.
David Pisarra is a Los Angeles Divorce and Child Custody Lawyer specializing in Father’s and Men’s Rights with the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist. He welcomes your questions and comments. He can be reached at email@example.com or 310/664-9969. You can follow him on Twitter @davidpisarra.