MoonOverPittsburgh

Some tiny creature, mad with wrath,

Is coming nearer on the path.

--Edward Gorey

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Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S. Outlying Islands

Writer, lawyer, cyclist, rock climber, wanderer of dark residential streets, friend.

Friday, April 08, 2005

More GOP Sword Rattling Regarding the Courts

I could easily just quote the whole article, because pretty much everything in it is appalling, but here's a contiguous excerpt that really freaks me out:

"I believe the judiciary branch of our government has overstepped its authority on countless occasions, overturning and in some cases just ignoring the legitimate will of the people," [House Majority Leader Tom DeLay] said. "Legislatures for too long have in effect washed our hands on controversial issues from abortion to religious expression to racial prejudice, leaving them to judges who we then excoriate for legislating from the bench. This era of constitutional cowardice must end."

* * * *

The organizers of the conference and Congressional staff members . . . called for several specific steps: impeaching judges deemed to have ignored the will of Congress or to have followed foreign laws; passing bills to remove court jurisdiction from certain social issues or the place of God in public life; changing Senate rules that allow the Democratic minority to filibuster Mr. Bush's appeals court nominees; and using Congress's authority over court budgets to punish judges whom it considers to have overstepped their authority.

"I am in favor of impeachment," Michael Schwartz, chief of staff to Senator Tom Coburn, Republican of Oklahoma, said in a panel discussion on abortion, suggesting "mass impeachment" might be needed.

In an interview, Jeff Lungren, a spokesman for Representative F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., Republican of Wisconsin and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, * * * said Mr. DeLay had not requested a hearing [on federal courts' handling of the Schiavo legislation/case] and the committee had not decided on a course of action. "There does seem to be this misunderstanding out there that our system was created with a completely independent judiciary," he said.

Dr. Rick Scarborough, chief organizer of the conference, called on Congress "to protect us from an overactive judiciary," saying: "Right now they are ruling as an oligarchy. They are the kings of the land." [all emphasis mine]

First, my visceral response: Holy shit, are these guys serious?!?!?! Is Tom DeLay really going on about accountability? The nerve!!! Have these people even heard of the constitution? Did they run out of toilet paper? Lord knows, they're wiping their asses with something they shouldn't.

Point by point:
  • "overturning and in some cases just ignoring the legitimate will of the people" -- The will of the people only trumps the constitution when the will of the people is sufficiently unanimous to ratify a change to that governing document. It is not only proper for the courts to "just ignore[] the legitimate will of the people" in certain cases, it is, in fact, their sworn duty, Fuckwad.

  • "Legislatures for too long have in effect washed our hands on controversial issues from abortion to religious expression to racial prejudice" -- Really? I hadn't noticed.

  • "impeaching judges deemed to have ignored the will of Congress or to have followed foreign laws" -- First, it's at least debatable whether Article III judges can be impeached for their decisions (although presumably flouting the law to improperly aid a party before you would qualify) simply because Congress disagrees with, e.g., the consideration of foreign sources of law in the deliberative process. The idea that we might impeach judges for "ignor[ing] the will of Congress" is so odious I don't even know what to say. This is where the ass-wiping with hallowed legal documents comes in, and if you can't see the problem with that statement you must be a Bush 43 Republican (distinct from a Republican who can defend his actions by reference to principle, with whom I have no issue and for whom, these days, I'm rather nostalgic), which these days is not much different than saying that you despise separation of powers. Congress hasn't abdicated its oversight role with respect to the courts, the nature of which it serially overstates. Rather, Congress has abdicated its oversight role with respect to the executive, which it is very difficult to overstate. How about you guys go declare a war or something. Do your job!!!

  • "There does seem to be this misunderstanding out there that our system was created with a completely independent judiciary" -- Funny, I was starting to get the sense there was this misunderstanding out there that lifetime tenure isn't a carefully tailored provision designed precisely to preserve the judiciary's comprehensive independence from political whim and mob rule. Guess what, kids, judicial independence is not a misunderstanding -- it's a constitutional requirement.

  • Finally, anyone in DeLay's corner has a lot of nerve throwing around the word "oligarchy." How about "despotism?" How does that sound?

  • This is an embarrassment. I don't know whether I want to lock these guys in the national archive or deny them access.

    COOLER HEADS PREVAILING UPDATE: Armand has a nice post noting that when results the GOP finds morally reprehensible are brought about by the vaunted democratic process instead of by the maligned judicial activist, it simply removes the bullseye from the judiciary and glues it to the back of the democratic majority or the representative body in question. Would that our electorate would pay more attention to this stuff; this is the kind of behavior on which the average joe ends schoolyard friendships. You'd think the average voter would catch on, sooner or later, and elect someone new.

    4 Comments:

    Anonymous binky said...

    Is it "fuckwad" or "fucktard"? Hmmm....

    And lest we forget the executive branch in all of the rampant attacks on "following foreign laws," it might be nice to remind these, ah, hmmm, critics, that in many cases it has been the executive branch (D and R alike) who have commited us to following international law by signing treaties and joining international organizations.

    2:42 PM  
    Blogger Moon said...

    treaties? international organizations? i have no idea what you're talking about. {shoulder-shrugging snicker}

    -- w

    2:46 PM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    You guys are flippin idiots who have no idea what you're talking about. You athiest liberals are just as bad as commies.

    8:04 PM  
    Blogger Moon said...

    Secretary Rumsfeld? That you? You spelled "atheist" wrong, just FYI. If you had anything of value to say, you'd participate in the discussion like an adult instead of hurling stones from across the street and hiding behind your mother's skirt.

    8:18 PM  

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