The struggle for an independent judiciary and the politicization of judging, at all levels of government, was made clear this week when a retiring administrative law judge on the Commodity Futures Trading Commission alleged that his colleague made a secret deal with a former Republican chairwoman of the agency to rule against all plaintiffs. As The Washington Post reported, George H. Painter, one of two administrative law judges who adjudicate complaints by investors alleging violations of the agency's rules, wrote in a notice that the other judge secretly promised the chairwoman that he would never rule in a complainant's favor. "A review of his rulings will confirm that he fulfilled his vow," Painter wrote in the document, which he submitted at the time of his retirement announcement. Painter said he could not "in good conscience" allow any of his pending cases to go to Judge Bruce Levine, and asked the agency to find an administrative judge from elsewhere in the federal government to take on his cases.
Meanwhile, Linda Greenhouse questioned whether Chief Justice John Roberts would "take a page from his mentor," former Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, and use his end-of-the-year announcement to draw attention to the vacancy crisis and chide the Senate for its inaction.