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We've all heard the now conventional wisdom about watching what you post online, especially when you post under your real name. A candidate for the federal bench, Kansas City attorney Stephen Bough, is living out that life lesson right now after the Senate Judiciary Committee brought up his blogging past during a confirmation hearing.
The best part? Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, quoted a comment posted under Bough's name stating, "You and the 3 other folks who read this blog will agree I shouldn't be a judge."
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The blog at issue, Blog CCP, was a discussion medium for the Committee for County Progress, a Democratic political reform organization established in 1964 to reform and restructure the government in Jackson County, Missouri. An attorney by day, Bough posted on the blog back when he led the CCP. The posts, as you might guess, typically take a liberal viewpoint of local political issues.
Though the blog has been inactive since 2009, Sen. Grassley told Bough that the committee would be reading his contributions, reports the ABA Journal. They'll certainly be busy: According to Google, his name has been mentioned 1,010 times on the blog.
"I just wanted to make sure you are aware that some question whether you possess the temperament we typically look for in a candidate for federal judge," Grassley told Bough. "I just wanted you to know in fairness that we'll be taking a close look at your writings on that blog and I imagine some of my colleagues will as well."
Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Missouri, might be particularly interested. A blog post listed under Bough's name reiterated a number of rumors about alleged unethical and corrupt activity by Blunt when he was a Congressman, with the conclusion, "Here's hoping Missouri voters end Roy Blunt's political career, too."
Blunt, of course, would vote on Bough's candidacy if it makes it out of committee.
Whether you are a blogger hoping to become a judge, or a judge who blogs, there are always going to be critics. Though we haven't read all 1,010 posts and comments tied to Bough's name (nor do we have any urge to whatsoever), we'd never urge someone to self-censor his own speech out of fear that someday, someone might disagree with them. (Granted, we're bloggers, so we may be a bit biased.)
Besides, Bough is a Democratic appointee who will be facing a Senate with a Democratic majority (pending November's election), and some left-leaning blog posts aren't going to irk his own base.
Your online contributions, on blogs, social media, and even in comments sections may follow you for life -- we all know this by now. Perhaps the best advice is this: Do your thing, but if you can, do so in a mature, intelligent manner.