April 5, 2005

Another Winner From Texas.

Tom DeLay wasn't enough, apparently. Nope, now we have Senator Cornyn (R-TX) taking a turn at the mike. Today's topic: 'Activist judges.' This is in the wake of DeLay's attack on the judiciary re: the Schiavo case; Sen. Cornyn has apparently given voice to the following. I will note up front: my source for this so far is three blogs, including that of Representative Conyers (D-MI).

Here are some gems from Cornyn:

…it causes a lot of people, including me, great distress to see judges use the authority that they have been given to make raw political or ideological decisions. And no one, including those judges, including the judges on the United States Supreme Court, should be surprised if one of us stands up and objects.

And, Mr. President, I'm going to make clear that I object to some of the decision-making process that is occurring at the United States Supreme Court today and now. I believe that insofar as the Supreme Court has taken on this role as a policy-maker rather than an enforcer of political decisions made by elected representatives of the people, it has led to the increasing divisiveness and bitterness of our confirmation fights. That is a very current problem that this body faces today. It has generated a lack of respect for judges generally. I mean, why should people respect a judge for making a policy decision borne out of an ideological conviction any more than they would respect or deny themselves the opportunity to disagree if that decision were made by an elected representative?

Of course the difference is that they can throw the rascal -- the rascal out -- and we are sometimes perceived as the rascal -- if they don't like the decisions that we make. But they can't vote against a judge because judges aren't elected. They serve for a lifetime on the federal bench. And, indeed, I believe this increasing politicalization of the judicial decision-making process at the highest levels of our judiciary have bred a lack of respect for some of the people that wear the robe. And that is a national tragedy.

And finally, I – I don't know if there is a cause-and-effect connection but we have seen some recent episodes of courthouse violence in this country. Certainly nothing new, but we seem to have run through a spate of courthouse violence recently that's been on the news. And I wonder whether there may be some connection between the perception in some quarters on some occasions where judges are making political decisions yet are unaccountable to the public, that it builds up and builds up and builds up to the point where some people engage in -- engage in violence. Certainly without any justification but a concern that I have that I wanted to share.

You know, it's ironic, if you look back, as we all have, being students of history in this body, all of us have been elected to other -- to other bodies and other offices and we're all familiar with the founding documents, the declaration of independence, the constitution itself, we're familiar with the federalist papers that were written in an effort to get the constitution ratified in New York state. Well, Alexander Hamilton, apropos of what I want to talk about here, authored a series of essays in the Federalist Papers that opined that the judicial branch would be what he called the -- quote -- "least dangerous branch of government." The "least dangerous branch." He pointed out that the judiciary lacked the power of the executive branch, the white house, for example, and the federal government and the political passions of the legislature. In other words, the congress. Its sole purpose -- that is, the federal judiciary's sole purpose was to objectively interpret and apply the laws of the land...

Hm. So apparently, with the sole exception of the phrase Certainly without justification which is buried in the rest of the speech, Senator Cornyn would like us all to cogitate on the proposition that 'activist judges' in a 'politicalized judiciary' are somehow inciting rage from the poor citizenry through their ideological tramplings over the rule of law and the actions of the stalwart and responsible-to-the-citizenry-Congress. Furthermore, it's tragic what these judges are doing, and it's an understandable progression to violence on the part of these citizens...if, of course, 'without justification.'

As another commentator points out, it would be difficult to image Senator Cornyn being so quick to voice concern if in fact those being attacked in their governmental workplaces were, in fact, Senators.

The depth of irresponsibility that this reaches simply staggers me. I haven't yet seen an allusion made to 'ridding us of these troublesome priests' so I'll make a tortured one there, because that's what this speech brings instantly to my mind. Of course, I'm part of the 'reality-based community' so my associations, fortunately, have little to do with the experiences of anyone currently in power in our government.

As Rep. Conyers notes, that same 'activist judiciary' gave the Republican party Bush v. Gore in the matter of the 2000 election. No Democrat lawmakers spoke on the floor of Congress about the judiciary sowing the seeds of their own violent ends then. Of the contested judicial nominations put forth by President Bush, whose opposition seems to have sparked the assault on the filibuster (a long-cherished check in the Congress, used by both parties), it should be pointed out that while perhaps a ten or so judges have been vetoed-by-filibuster, many, many more (over two hundred?) have been confirmed by the Democrats in Congress - a fairly remarkable success rate. If these current mutterings about 'judicial activism' and subsequent incredibly irresponsible hatemongering from the Republican Congressional camp stem from dissatisfaction with the veto of those last few, I have to ask - how much more petty and have-your-cake can you get, boys? What do these ten have that the other two-hundred-plus don't? If it's a lean to the right, doesn't threatening to overturn Congressional process to slam through the fringe five percent of your nominee list look a wee bit zealous?

Give it the fuck up. The emperor's not only got no clothes, he's got one finger up his nose and the other clutched around his somewhat limp dick and is muttering to himself.

Posted by jbz at April 5, 2005 4:11 AM | TrackBack

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