Jim Brown is a Louisiana legislator, Secretary of State and Insurance Commissioner.
Whatever the final result over the confirmation battle of Judge Brett Kavanaugh, one thing is becoming more urgent. The court itself has a crisis of legitimacy. And one way to restore its genuineness is to require term limits for all future judges.
The Supreme Court of old was more majestic with few periods of confrontation. Just a decade ago, 2/3rds of Americans had great confidence in the Court. No more. There’s trouble brewing in those marble temple walls. Confidence in the workings of the court and the Justices themselves have dropped to a mere 50% approval rating.
It’s been ten years since the financial crisis on Wall Street filtered down through the insurance industry. Many national insurance companies were under siege, and even though Louisiana is a small state in population, policyholders were affected proportionally at a much greater degree than in most other parts of the country.
I have a confession to make. And President Trump is not going to like it. I’m a southern country lawyer. Darn proud of it. In the President’s words, I may be a “dumb southern country lawyer.” I just hope the President does not have a sneering contempt for all of us Louisiana lawyers who cut our teeth practicing law in the rural areas of the Bayou State.
We all know that there is a crisis in the Catholic Church right now. Allegations of sexually abusive clergy are pouring in worldwide. Unfortunately, the roots of this terrible tragedy engulfing the Catholic Church have strong ties to the Bayou Sate. Here's how National Public Radio in Minnesota titled their investigative story on sexual abuse by priests: “It All Began in Lafayette, Louisiana.” And it did, back in 1984.
Current Louisiana Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser has brought up an interesting idea. Have the governor and the lieutenant governor run together on the same ticket. Such a system exists in a majority of states across the nation.
As Nugesser states: “The ticket idea seems to work well in other states. We ought to consider it. The only way I can do the best job I can do is to have a good working relationship with the governor.”
There seems to be a wealth of fabricators at the state capitol in Baton Rouge. Gov. Edwards is accusing U.S. Senator John Kennedy of making "untruthful comments" on the early release of state prisoners. Kennedy has countered back calling out the Governor for “bending the truth.” Two state senators physically squared off against each other in a local bar. And both Democrat and Republican legislators have accused each other of “hiding the truth” as to just whose at fault over the state’s perilous financial condition.
The Queen City of the South is under siege. No, not from hurricanes. This time, the siege is from within. New Orleans is known as the city that care forgot. But it’s been hard to let the good times roll in the Big Easy when the dice keep coming up snake eyes.
New Orleans is in a battle to stay afloat as it deals with major street crime, inept public officials, and a dysfunctional criminal justice system where even federal officials can no longer be trusted. Author James Lee Burke writes about this corruption and dysfunction in his novel Last Car to Elysian Fields. “One of the most beautiful cities in the Western hemisphere was killed three times, and not just by forces of nature.”
For years, legislators in Louisiana have maintained a well-deserved reputation of irrelevance when it comes to substantively addressing a host of public issues. The mantra seems to be one of keeping a finger in the financial dike to get through the next fiscal year, and side stepping a host of idiosyncratic concerns that include bestiality, hair braiding and sports betting. But if you think Louisiana has an oddball legislature that leans toward quirky solutions to non- existent problems, check out California that has moved a notch ahead of us here in the Deep South.
Down in the Bayou State, there’s a clamor for more executions. Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry makes no bones about his feelings. More executions- including nitrogen gas, hangings, firing squads, electrocution and lethal injection. But a federal judge has put all executions in Louisiana on hold for another year.
With one recent Supreme Court Justice confirmed and another just appointed by President Trump, the issue of televising hearings before the nation’s highest court will surely be discussed. The Supremes have stood steadfastly against letting the public watch the cases argued before them, even though the court’s decisions can often have major implications for every American. The Constitution guarantees that trials are public and open to everyone. And what could be more public than televising a criminal trial for the whole world to see?