This was said about a campaign finance law: “As other histories tell us, attempts to purify the public square lead to places like the Guillotine and the Gulag.” That wasn’t said on some conspiracy theory site like World Net Daily or Infowars. It wasn’t in one of those forwarded e-mails you get from your wingnut crazy uncle. That was said by a federal judge. In an opinion!

That nutty sentence came from U.S. District Judge Rudolph Randa, in an opinion where he didn’t merely stop a prosecutors from continuing to try a case, because the case was still in the investigation stage. He stopped the investigation. Prosecutors can’t even look into it further than they have, and he ordered them to return or destroy all evidence to guarantee no one can ever investigate again. The targets were the campaign of Wisconsin governor Scott Walker, and some outside groups who supported him, for allegations of illegal coordination. Randa cited McCutcheon and Citizens United, neither of which apply here, so coordination between independent groups and candidates’ campaigns is still illegal.

Randa was appointed by a Republican president. Try not to act shocked. Oooh, well done. Though you might be slightly surprised that he was appointed by the senior Bush, supposedly the less ideological one. Can you imagine a Democratic president appointing a judge who would say regulating campaign finance leads to the guillotine and the gulag? Whatever disagreements you’ve had with modern Democratic presidents on whatever issues, you’ve known that at least they’re not going to appoint judges like Randa.

That’s why it matters which party wins and gets to appoint judges. Stakes are a lot lower at the state level, but the argument still applies since governors appoint judges too. Who wins matters. A lot. If you need just one reason to vote, to get someone else to vote, to care who wins, judges are it. The damage they can do, well, let’s put it this way: without the 5-4 conservative majority majority on the Supreme Court, we would still have campaign finance laws. We wouldn’t have judicial abetment of the running-amok of big business. Bush Jr. would not have been allowed to steal an election. If you want a Rosetta Stone to understand the conservative judiciary, look at where big business and billionaires care, and where they don’t care. Where they care, they get what they want.

The next person who says the parties are the same, or it doesn’t matter who wins, is too big a fool to be listened to any further.

Fortunately in this one case, hope is not lost. The appeals court stayed the ruling. They allowed Randa to still stop the investigation, but the ordered the evidence gathered thus far to be preserved. Here’s hoping the overturn the ruling, and that if there was a crime committed, the investigators will have time to complete it before the Supreme Court throws it out. By a 5-4 majority, of course.

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