Following her decision to place an injunction on certain parts of Arizona's immigration law, right-wing media have attacked Judge Susan Bolton by suggesting she is a partisan who was "bought by" the Obama administration. However, Judge Bolton, a registered Independent, is widely respected, and has recently been praised by Arizona Republicans Gov. Jan Brewer and Sen. Jon Kyl -- who recommended her nomination to then-Pres. Bill Clinton in 2000.
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Right-wing media attacks and attempts to discredit Judge Bolton
RedState: There is anger "about Federal Judge Susan Bolton's willingness to be bought by Obama and the Holder DoJ." In a July 28 RedState post, blogger David Poff wrote, "I know there is a great deal of anger and frustration out there... amongst the 70% of you who are racists that believe immigration laws should be enforced... about Federal Judge Susan Bolton's willingness to be bought by Obama and the Holder DoJ." Poff also referred to Bolton as "this so-called federal judge."
National Review: Bolton was "determined ... to follow the Obama administration's political strategy." In a July 28 National Review Online blog, Heather Mac Donald claimed Bolton's ruling "maintain[ed] the Obama administration's carefully cultivated fiction: that what concerns the White House regarding S.B. 1070 is its effect on legal, rather than illegal, aliens." Mac Donald also claimed that "so determined was Judge Bolton to follow the Obama administration's political strategy regarding the law's putative impact on legal immigrants that she exploited a drafting error in the law that Arizona had already acknowledged and repudiated."
Gingrich: "If anybody in Arizona is hurt during this intervening period, I think the judge in many ways is responsible." On the July 29 edition of Fox & Friends, Fox News contributor Newt Gingrich claimed Bolton "in many ways is responsible" if "anyone in Arizona gets hurt during this intervening period." From Fox & Friends:
CARLSON: You have the administration, speaker, but now you've got this Judge Bolton who has stepped in front of this moving train. And she has effectively stopped a lot of the parts of it from going into effect at midnight. Some of the parts in effect, other parts not. How much responsibility does she bear for what happens down there going forward?
GINGRICH: She should bear a great deal of responsibility and if anybody in Arizona is hurt during this intervening period, I think that judge in many ways is responsible. The people of Arizona with a freely elected legislature and freely elected governor were trying to solve a problem the federal government had created and now you have a federal judge stepping in, blocking the people of Arizona in their own freely elected institutions from trying to protect themselves. It's fundamentally wrong.
Fox Nation: "Clinton-Appointed Judge Guts Ariz. Immigration Law." The Fox Nation suggested that Bolton was partisan, by posting a FoxNews.com article under the headline "Clinton-Appointed Judge Guts Ariz. Immigration Law." From The Fox Nation:
Drudge suggests partisanship with headline "Clinton appointee made ruling." On July 29, Drudge linked to an AP article on Bolton's ruling with the headline "Clinton appointee made ruling..." From the Drudge Report:
But Arizona conservatives, including Gov. Brewer, have praised Judge Bolton
Gov. Brewer: Bolton is "so well informed" and has a "very, very good grasp of" the issues involved. On the July 22 edition of Fox News' On the Record with Greta van Susteren, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer said she was "very, very confident of Judge Bolton. She seems to have a very, very good grasp of the issues":
VAN SUSTEREN: As you listened to the argument from the lawyer representing the United States, did you begin to worry about whether or not that your statute would stand?
BREWER: No. I feel very, very confident even more so now that we have been there and had the presentation. It was very well done and I'm very, very confident of Judge Bolton. She seems to have a very, very good grasp of the issues. I thought that it went very, very well. I feel very confident.
VAN SUSTEREN: Did the judge grill the lawyers on both sides?
BREWER: She did. She asked them questions. And of course some of the testimony from the earlier morning testimony kind of bled through to the afternoon testimony so it didn't have to be repeated again. But yes she did. She asked questions and tried to get them to qualify some of the issues. She was so well informed and had such a great grasp of what she was dealing with that it just gave you a really good sense of confidence.
Kyl: "People should know that Judge Bolton is a highly competent, very well respected judge." On the July 28 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) called Bolton "highly competent" and "very well respected," adding, "however she rules on this, I'll certainly respect her decision." From America's Newsroom:
HEMMER: What's your expectation from this judge?
KYL: Well first of all, people should know that Judge Bolton is a highly competent, very well respected judge, and however she rules on this, I'll certainly respect her decision. '
My guess is that she will parse the law, that is to say, she will perhaps extract certain portions of it that she thinks might be problematic and might enjoin the operations of those portions calling for additional briefing from the parties, perhaps, but that the biggest part of the law, I don't think she will enjoin, and that's essentially the part that says if a police officer stops someone in the normal course of his responsibilities for like a traffic ticket, for example, and then has reasonable cause to believe after that stop, that the individual is not here in the country lawfully, he may - or he should further inquire into their status. ... It's my opinion she will not enjoin that portion of the law.
Bolton nominated by Clinton at the recommendation of Kyl. Bolton was nominated to the United States Disctrict Court by President Clinton on Kyl's recommendation. Kyl reportedly said during her confirmation hearing, "There is one person in our state who's a real expert on this in the judiciary, and that's Judge Bolton ... And because of her expertise and fairness, all of the contending interests from Arizona have been willing to place their concerns before her to be resolved."
Arizona Daily Star: Bolton is a "registered independent." In a July 21 article, the Arizona Daily Star reported that "Judge Susan Bolton is a registered independent in Maricopa County. She was appointed to the federal court on Oct. 20, 2000, as an independent. She was nominated by Democratic President Bill Clinton on the recommendation of Republican Sen. Jon Kyl." The article further notes:
The federal judge who will be ruling on whether to block Arizona's new immigration law from taking effect is known as a thorough, efficient, intelligent and fair jurist.
U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton has earned that reputation during nearly a decade on the federal bench in Arizona and 11 years before that as a Superior Court judge in Maricopa County.
"I don't think that either party could ask for a better judge," said Dave Cole a law professor at the Phoenix School of Law and former Maricopa County Superior Court judge. "She is very deliberative, very reflective, runs a very tight ship in the courtroom. Very detached, objective, good at applying the law."
The consensus among members of the legal community interviewed for this story is that she's the right person to have making such an important decision.