The name, J. Michael Eakin, may not be known to those beyond the borders of Pennsylvania, but among judges he was a superstar.
For 20 years he sat on the state’s highest appellate courts: 6 years on the Superior Court; 14 years on the PA Supreme Court, until his recent suspension, fall from grace and subsequent registration, following what has been called “Porngate” — in which judges and state prosecutors swapped photos of a sexual, pornographic or racist nature among themselves.
Pennsylvania’s Attorney-General, Kathleen Kane, the first woman in that post, blew the whistle on such shenanigans, and judges began falling like leaves in autumn.
And while the press has been titillated by sexual revelations, the racist comments and cartoons have received less attention. It’s thus, unremarked that the court is all-white; or that there’s also a class dimension at work here.
Most Americans, over 70%, have never attended college.
Judges, having first been lawyers, are among the most educated in America.
Not for naught has the great observer, Alexis de Tocqueville, in his classic Democracy in America, called lawyers ‘America’s last aristocracy’.
And, as such, they invariably look down their aristocratic noses at their less educated brethren.
This, too, was an element in their emails, cartoons and comics of derision.
The high-officed – spitting on the poor, the impoverished, the hoi polloi, the working people.
In America, those in power despise the powerless; that’s why they are so ruthless when they come before them, pleading for mercy, from those who are without mercy.
They are all ‘tough on crime’ – until they get caught.