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Time to stop these activist judges!

Okay, I’ll start this by admitting that I’m not the most experienced federal litigator in the world, but I find this puzzling:

The City of Dallas voted Wednesday to immediately remove a statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee from a public park, but the work was abruptly stopped by a federal judge.

Soon after the vote, workers in hard hats and yellow vests cordoned off the area around the Lee monument, which stands in Robert E. Lee Park, a green space in Dallas that is bounded on one side by Lee Parkway.

But their efforts came to a halt when Judge Sidney Fitzwater of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas granted a temporary restraining order halting the statue’s removal, according to Richard Hill, a spokesman for the city. A hearing on the proposed removal of the monument was scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Thursday, according to The Dallas Morning News.

via The New York Times

Liberal judges are constantly accused of being “activists”, and I suppose there’s a marginal chance this judge is a liberal, though given the fact that Texas judges have been selected by whackjob Republican Senators for the past 27 years or so, that seems doubtful.

Here’s my question: How does a federal court have jurisdiction to involve itself in this case?

Federal courts have jurisdiction to hear two general categories of cases. The case must involve a “federal question” or there must be diversity of citizenship between the parties (i.e., the plaintiff must be from one state and the defendant from another). In the latter case, the plaintiff must also establish that there is an “amount in controversy” of $75,000.00 or more. It is unlikely that anyone is in a position to claim that he or she will be damaged to the tune of $75,000.00 by the removal of this statue, and it’s hard to see how a citizen of another state would have standing to bring the action in the first place.

How, particularly in the land of state’s rights (I know-state’s rights only applies when it suits their purposes) is the decision of a municipality about statuary a federal issue? What federal statute or right is implicated in the City Council’s decision to remove this statue? If the City of Boston wants to remove the Make Way for Ducklings statue (which, heaven forbid), does it need permission from a federal judge? Could a judge require a city to put up a statue on the petition of a random racist? Let’s turn it around, could a federal judge forbid the erection of a statue proposed by a municipality?

I can conceive of an argument for an affirmative answer to my last question. Back when a lot of these statues were erected, they symbolized, as they do today, the triumph of Jim Crow and the subversion by local authorities of the U.S. Constitution. Perhaps you could make something of that. But how do you argue that taking down a symbol of hate and repression presents a federal question? Imagine too, the reaction we’d hear from Tucker Carlson and his ilk if a judge ordered the removal of one of these statues If the local authorities refused to do so.

This movement to remove monuments to hate and treason is one of the few hopeful signs of the age of Trump. This activist judge should step aside and let the enlightened people of Dallas do the right thing.

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