Friday, April 08, 2005

Balance of Power

For those of us who are students of history, watching the events playing out in America is much like a train wreck. Frightening, but fascinating nonetheless. When you have the House majority leader (Tom DeLay) advocating the impeachment of judges because their rulings weren't what he and his ilk required, you are seeing one of the final strengths of democracy washing away in the tide.

As per an article in the NYT April 8th -- (DeLay Says Federal Judiciary Has 'Run Amok,' Adding Congress Is Partly to Blame) --

"Mr. DeLay alluded to Congressional authority to "set the parameters" of courts' jurisdictions and its obligation "to make sure the judges administer their responsibilities."

The organizers of the conference and Congressional staff members who spoke there 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."

Senator Cornyn from Texas took it a step further as cited here in the Washington Post.

"Sen. John Cornyn said yesterday that recent examples of courthouse violence may be linked to public anger over judges who make politically charged decisions without being held accountable.

In a Senate floor speech in which he sharply criticized a recent Supreme Court ruling on the death penalty, Cornyn (R-Tex.) -- a former Texas Supreme Court justice and member of the Judiciary Committee -- said Americans are growing increasingly frustrated by what he describes as activist jurists.

"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," he said. Sometimes, he said, "the Supreme Court has taken on this role as a policymaker rather than an enforcer of political decisions made by elected representatives of the people."

Cornyn continued: "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. . . . 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."

The prisoner in Atlanta who killed a judge, a court reporter, a deputy and a civilian wasn't pissed about the judge's political 'decisions.' He wanted to escape, pure and simple. To attribute a higher cause to his actions is an insult to the dead and to their families as if in some way they deserved their fate.

It's time for the Republicans to clean house, starting with DeLay. The man has no ethics and would castrate our Constitution and the protections embodied therein just to curry favor with a few fantatics. If you think this isn't such a big deal, time to polish off your history books and study the rise of totalitarian regimes in Germany and Russia. The overthrow of basic freedoms was a gradual one, not an overnight coup.

Hopefully the Republicans will "Newt Gingerich" this guy and send him back to Texas along with Cornyn. Compared to these two guys, Bush II is looking pretty harmless.