|Judge Mark Fuller|
The news, coming one day after gay couples were allowed to legally marry in Alabama, serves as a grim reminder that the state's federal bench has not been fully engulfed with integrity and reason.
Callie V. Granade, a district judge in Mobile, probably gave the federal judiciary in the South an image boost by issuing an enlightened (and apparently legally sound) ruling that paved the way for gay marriage in Alabama, In fact, Granade is due to hear oral arguments tomorrow that could open gay marriage in counties that, so far, have not recognized it.
Granade, a George W. Bush appointee (of all things), has received applause in progressive circles for her handling of the gay-marriage issue. But Fuller, another Bush appointee, serves as her counterpoint--an unmistakable sign that ugliness and dishonesty continue to reside on the U.S. bench in Alabama.
Fuller once was best known as the trial judge who butchered the prosecution of former Alabama governor Don Siegelman and his codefendant, ex-HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy. But Fuller might wind up best known as the judge who beat up his wife last summer. That is what led to the specter of impeachment, as discussed in Rep. Sewell's statement yesterday:
“In November, I requested that the Judiciary Committee initiate an impeachment investigation and hearing into Judge Mark Fuller’s arrest. Only Congress can impeach a federal judge, and I have repeatedly pressed for my colleagues on the Judiciary Committee to take the steps necessary to remove Judge Fuller from the bench.
“I am pleased that the House Judiciary Committee has requested additional funding in anticipation of potential judicial impeachment proceedings. I hoped that Judge Fuller would have spared himself, his family, and our nation the expense of this lengthy process by immediately resigning but he has resisted my repeated calls to step down.
“I will continue to work with my colleagues to uphold the integrity of the Court and to initiate impeachment proceedings.”
That should add a dose of reality to potentially heightened public perceptions about federal judges in Alabama.
How bad is Fuller? Former Reagan-administration official Paul Craig Roberts summed it up in an article last September:
Republican US district court judge Mark Fuller was arrested in Atlanta this month for beating his wife in an Atlanta hotel. The judge, in whose honor courts must rise, was charged with battery and taken to the Fulton County jail at 2:30AM Sunday morning August 10. If you look at the mug shot of Mark Fuller, he doesn’t inspire confidence. Fuller was a bitter enemy of Siegelman and should have recused himself from Siegelman’s trial, but ethical behavior required more integrity than Fuller has.
Too many Southerners, Roberts argues, are ignorant of their own history, going back to the Civil War:
It is extremely ironic that the formerly solid Democratic South, plundered, looted, and raped by Republican armies, votes Republican. If anything shows the insouciance of a people, the South’s Republican vote is the best demonstration. The South votes for a party that destroyed the South and its culture. There is no greater evidence of a people totally ignorant of, or indifferent to, their history than the Southern people who vote Republican.
Is Fuller the only conservative rogue on Alabama's federal bench, in an era now marked by the foresight of Callie Granade and her gay-marriage ruling?
Not by a long shot.