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St. Louis judge hates liberals
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
By Robert Patrick
December 26, 2006

A liberal-bashing book by a veteran St. Louis judge is to become available publicly this week, but it is already causing a stir in political and legal circles — and prompting some to say it could cost him his job.

Chapter 1 of Circuit Judge Robert H. Dierker Jr.'s book, "The Tyranny of Tolerance: A Sitting Judge Breaks the Code of Silence to Expose the Liberal Judicial Assault," has circulated via e-mail since last month and been widely read in legal circles, lawyers and judges say.

The sentiments expressed in that chapter, which frequently uses the term "femifascists" and is titled "The Cloud Cuckooland of Radical Feminism," have already prompted a complaint with the state body that can reprimand or remove judges.

Other judges and lawyers have said that Dierker may have violated a state rule against a judge using his or her position for personal profit. One judge said it would be surprising if Dierker was not removed, calling the book "professional suicide."

In a recent interview, however, Dierker defended the book's themes, welcomed the criticism and said his own lawyers say the book doesn't break any rules.

Judges contacted by the Post-Dispatch, including many of Dierker's St. Louis colleagues, would not comment publicly. Privately, they complain that Dierker didn't warn them of the book, or offer a preview.

What may be the only public shot at Dierker came at a Dec. 18 judges' meeting. In a discussion of hiring of a spokesperson, Circuit Judge Jimmie Edwards suggested such a person might also function as a "judges' book review" to prevent them from "offending the bench."

Name-calling

The first chapter was heavily discussed at the recent holiday party for the Women Lawyers' Association of Greater St. Louis.

One judge who attended noted, "Everyone's just pretty much shocked."

Association President Lynn Ricci said, "I have read it. I find it disturbing." She also said, "I frankly think that it is a shame that this very smart man has lowered himself to name-calling."

Although Ricci said she has not studied the chapter, she said, "It appears that he's cloaking his own personal preferences against women in alleged legal research and a partial examination of the law."

Dierker, who has been on the bench since 1986, has repeatedly been passed over for advancement.

But Dierker probably has nothing to fear from the predominantly Democratic voters in St. Louis. Judges are very rarely voted out of office — Dierker's own research found only two — and his next election won't come for six years.

About 70 percent of the St. Louis voters voted to retain Dierker last month, which is within a few percentage points, plus or minus, of what colleagues received. Ninety percent of lawyers who voted in a Bar survey said he should be retained.

Dierker says the numbers show that he is not a "fringe operator," and he does not have that reputation in the courthouse.

Can he be impartial?

He may face repercussions in the courtroom.

Lawyers could cite the book as evidence that Dierker is unable to be impartial on issues involving women, or liberals, or the American Civil Liberties Union, for example, forcing his removal from cases.

Dierker responds that he is always fair in the courtroom, and paraphrases the book: "Conservative judges are much more likely to know where their biases are and how to draw the line."

Dierker could also face an inquiry from Missouri's Commission on Retirement, Removal and Discipline. Most of what the commission does is informal and secret. But the commission does have the power to recommend anything from a public reprimand to removal of the judge from office.

State Sen. Joan Bray, D-University City, filed a complaint with the commission last month, citing her concerns with the first chapter. Bray said, "I'm still worrying about women in Missouri being treated fairly in the courtroom." She said she plans a follow-up complaint, based on conversations with lawyers and judges, that would include a complaint that Dierker was violating judicial rules by using his position to promote the book.

Lawyers and judges suggest that may be Dierker's greatest vulnerability.

Dierker said he asked his publisher not to overly emphasize his title and has had to rein in the book's promotion at some points. "We tried to stay on the right side of the line," he said.

In a disclaimer at the end of the book, he writes that the views in the book are "personal, and should not be construed as any indication of how I would rule on any case coming before me. No public resources were used in the preparation of this work. The use of my title is strictly for identification," Dierker continues.

He said that his message is inextricably intertwined with his personal experience as a judge, and he has made it clear that the book is unofficial.

Dierker said that he would fight any challenge vigorously, including potentially taking any discipline to federal court.

Public appearances

Although Dierker's book could become available this week, the official rollout comes next Tuesday on conservative TV host Bill O'Reilly's show. Dierker also says he has appearances scheduled on other radio and TV programs across the political spectrum.

Crown Forum, an arm of publishing giant Random House Inc. that specializes in nonfiction from a conservative point of view, is the publisher of Dierker's book.

Dierker said that he had to be "polemical" in the book to get attention, and said "controversy is inevitable." But, he said, the controversy may draw attention to an issue that is permeating the law and the judiciary. "If I wrote a law review article, who would read it?" he asked.

"I think unquestionably, the more controversy, the more interest it generates from the mundane to the philosophical," he said.

Dierker said criticism of the book may be unpleasant. But, he adds, "If you dish it out, you have to be able to take it."

Book quotes:

— "Just as we saw with the femifascists, illiberal liberals don't want equality; they want to make some people more equal than others. And they've made it happen through their dominance of the courts over the past seventy-five years. Liberals have converted the courts from the 'least dangerous' branch of government envisioned by the Founding Fathers to the most dangerous." (from a chapter titled "Making some Americans more equal than others" about the 14th Amendment and equal protection under the law)

— "This is liberal law in a nutshell. History and tradition count for nothing; the language of the Constitution itself counts for little; the only criterion is whether a ruling will advance the liberal agenda." (from the chapter "Ozzie and Harriet are dead" about abortion and the attack on the traditional family)

— " ...The Constitution died on April 18, 1990, as a direct result of the liberal pursuit of racial 'equality.'" (from the chapter "Taxation for Tolerance" about school desegregation and desegregation rulings that allow judges to impose taxes)

Original Text

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