Perhaps, though, I spoke too soon. If they're going to flat-out spread misinformation about the races, maybe it'd be better if they said nothing at all. The Dallas Morning News last week endorsed Barbara Walther, the judge who presided over the Great Eldorado Polygamist Roundup, over Bert Richardson, a well-respected Republican out of San Antonio, in the GOP primary for Place 3 on the CCA. That's their prerogative, but the editorial said they endorsed Walther specifically because of her role in the YFZ Ranch fiasco, declaring, "It was an exceedingly complicated case involving 416 children, parents, Child Protective Services and hordes of lawyers. Her ability to keep a semblance of order and dispense justice with minimal wrinkles impressed us as remarkable, given the often chaotic scenario."
That's simply ridiculous given that Walther's own judicial overreach created the "chaotic scenario" in the first place. The Third Court of Appeals ruled (and the Texas Supreme Court agreed) that Walther abused her discretion by ordering more than 400 children to be taken from their parents based on their religious views (a prospect that should worry every religious home-schooler in the state, btw). Since when does a judge abusing her discretion to order 400+ children seized count as "minimal wrinkles"?
The appellate court ruled that Walther erred because she treated the entire 1,700 acre ranch on which many different families resided as a single "household" and failed to require that CPS demonstrate individual children had been abused before taking them from their parents, instead assuming their parents' religious beliefs in and of themselves justified rounding kids up by the busload and dumping them into the foster system. Readers will recall that the entire episode was based on a hoax phone call and Walther conspicuously avoided ever requiring the hoaxer - a woman named Rozita Swinton who called in her false allegations from Colorado Springs - to testify in court. As Grits wrote in 2010:
To repeat what I wrote last year, "why hasn't Rozita Swinton been charged for her instigatory role in the Texas case? I think it's precisely because the last thing Judge Walther and the Texas Rangers want is for her to be cross-examined under oath about who knew what when and how she was able to pull off such a grand imposture." If that were to happen, I suspect it would reveal improprieties by authorities that would invalidate the search warrant used to get onto the property. I continue to believe officials were looking for any excuse to launch such a raid and knew or should have known at the time they went in that the call was a likely hoax.One of her
The Great Eldorado Polygamist Roundup is pretty much Walther's only claim to fame and it was a judge-created fiasco on a scale never before seen in the history of Texas jurisprudence. For the Dallas News to use that episode to justify her endorsement either bespeaks a lack of due diligence by the editorial aboard or an explicit ratification of judges abusing their power whenever they decide the ends justify the means.
For fans of limited government and judicial restraint - which in a Republican primary surely should be the proper measuring sticks - Bert Richardson is clearly the superior choice in that race. It's disappointing the Morning News couldn't see that. Let's hope GOP primary voters do.