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Mud from behind rocks

On the highly recommended list – this traceback blog post by the Majority Rules Blog, trying to answer what should be a simple question: Who is Americans Tired of Lawsuit Abuse, the Virginia-based group which has dumped $357,000 into an attack-ad campaign against Washington Supreme Court Chief Justice Gerry Alexander?

Steve Zemke followed the basic filing information back as far as he could, back to Virginia. Not much was available on the surface; those leads went cold at phone numbers answered only by message machines, and residential fax lines. The road eventually leads to the American Tort Reform Coalition and its political director, who was also a top official and staffer at the Republican National Committee. The piece is well worth a look, bearing in mind the question that grabs Zemke and should grab you: Why are these guys being so secretive and hiding behind so many shells?

The attack on the centrist Washington justices has gone hardcore – beyond what the region has seen before. The Justice at Stake Campaign, which tries to press for civic judicial campaigning, points out three Washington broadcast campaigns underway with the intent of sliming the incumbent justices there:

* A TV ad airing by an independent group identified as “Americans Tired of Lawsuit Abuse” – an interest group based in Virginia – attacks Chief Justice Gerry Alexander by saying that “The Andress decision let my son’s killer walk free…..if Justice Alexander hadn’t voted for this decision, this wouldn’t have happened.” Four other judges agreed with Alexander’s majority vote.

* A radio ad paid for by the Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW) focuses on the age of Chief Justice Alexander: “When it’s your time, you know it. You’re tired, you get sloppy, you make mistakes. Take Chief Justice Gerry Alexander, he’s been a judge since Nixon was president. In recent years, Alexander has not only lost a step or two, he’s done real damage.”

* A separate radio ad paid for a group called “Constitution First” charges that “Marriage is under attack in Washington state.” The ad attacks Justice Tom Chambers for his vote in a recent same-sex marriage case, even though the same-sex marriage ban was upheld by the Washington Supreme Court earlier this year.

It may get uglier.

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