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Lugar: I paid the price for support of Obama picks

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Former Indiana Sen. Richard G. Lugar told members of the federal judiciary May 6 that his support of President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court appointees, opposed by many in his party, may have carried the greatest political cost of any decisions during his 36 years in the Senate.

Lugar said his support of justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan were most frequently mentioned by the roughly 250,000 voters his campaign staff personally talked with in phone conversations during the 2012 Republican primary campaign. Lugar was unseated by Tea Party favorite Richard Mourdock, who lost the general election to Democrat Joe Donnelly.

Lugar said voters were not persuaded by the argument that obstructing nominees on a political basis would raise obstacles for the nominees of future Republican presidents. Voters said they understood such a view, but it was “trumped by their desire to oppose the president,” Lugar told the 7th Circuit Bar Association and Judicial Conference in Indianapolis.

Senators of opposing parties now vote against confirmation of federal judges from half to four-fifths of the time, Lugar said. “It’s no longer good politics” to approach confirmation votes from a non-political point of view, he said. Bucking party lines on confirmation votes “carries extreme political risks, and almost no political benefit” for senators, he said, noting he found Sotomayor and Kagan to have strong qualifications, high moral character, and the respect of the legal community.

“Outside political forces on both sides” have “monetized” opposition in an effort to appeal to political bases, he said. Cable news and partisan websites, for instance, allow activists to spread “a strident viewpoint to vast numbers.” Lugar suggested that view over time could have a corrosive effect on the political independence of the federal judiciary.

Lugar contrasted the heated battles over Supreme Court nominations to his early days in the Senate, when confirmations typically sailed through, sometimes without hearings or with nominal questioning from the Judiciary Committee. He said there are signs, though, that a foundation still exists to rebuild a nonpartisan confirmation process.

Speaking at the 7th Circuit Conference’s annual luncheon, Lugar used the occasion to also promote the post-legislative work he’s hoping to carry out through the Lugar Center in Washington, D.C., and his work with the University of Indianapolis, Indiana University and Georgetown University.

The Lugar Center, founded last month, aims to promote hallmarks of his legacy as a lawmaker: nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction, global food security and ensuring the effectiveness of international aid. Lugar, 81, was recently knighted as a Knight Commander of the British Empire for his work reducing weapons of mass destruction.

At the outset of his speech, Lugar paid tribute to former Indiana Gov. Otis Bowen, who died May 4 at age 95, and who Lugar called “a very good friend.”

“He meant so much to all of us in public life, and in private life,” Lugar said.•

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  • The Right Thing
    You are a Man, an Attorney and a former Senator. You also have a heart an voted for what you knew was the right then to do and not for political reasons. God has and is continue to reward your for your good deeds. Thanks for doing the right thing and following your heart and not politics. Governer Pence is proving to do what is right and not political. Pray for more humans like you too.

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  1. Linda, I sure hope you are not seeking a law license, for such eighteenth century sentiments could result in your denial in some jurisdictions minting attorneys for our tolerant and inclusive profession.

  2. Mazel Tov to the newlyweds. And to those bakers, photographers, printers, clerks, judges and others who will lose careers and social standing for not saluting the New World (Dis)Order, we can all direct our Two Minutes of Hate as Big Brother asks of us. Progress! Onward!

  3. My daughter was taken from my home at the end of June/2014. I said I would sign the safety plan but my husband would not. My husband said he would leave the house so my daughter could stay with me but the case worker said no her mind is made up she is taking my daughter. My daughter went to a friends and then the friend filed a restraining order which she was told by dcs if she did not then they would take my daughter away from her. The restraining order was not in effect until we were to go to court. Eventually it was dropped but for 2 months DCS refused to allow me to have any contact and was using the restraining order as the reason but it was not in effect. This was Dcs violating my rights. Please help me I don't have the money for an attorney. Can anyone take this case Pro Bono?

  4. If justice is not found in a court room, it's time to clean house!!! Even judges are accountable to a higher Judge!!!

  5. The small claims system, based on my recent and current usage of it, is not exactly a shining example of justice prevailing. The system appears slow and clunky and people involved seem uninterested in actually serving justice within a reasonable time frame. Any improvement in accountability and performance would gain a vote from me. Speaking of voting, what do the people know about judges and justice from the bench perspective. I think they have a tendency to "vote" for judges based on party affiliation or name coolness factor (like Stoner, for example!). I don't know what to do in my current situation other than grin and bear it, but my case is an example of things working neither smoothly, effectively nor expeditiously. After this experience I'd pay more to have the higher courts hear the case -- if I had the money. Oh the conundrum.

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