Friday, April 08, 2005

DeLay Targets Judges, Hits Senate Conservatives?

The bad news: the religious right apparently has been readying a war against the independent judiciary for some time now, and they have chosen the Terri Schiavo case as an opportunity to launch it. Note the worst proposal mentioned in this article: "to remove court jurisdiction from certain social issues or the place of God in public life," i.e., exempting religion from the constraints of constitutional government.

The good news, such as it is: at least all of this is coming into the open now, before the looming battles over the president's judicial appointments (including, possibly, to the Supreme Court). And the religious right's threats are so obvious an attack on the American system that they are likely to produce a backlash, stiffening the backbones of a few Senate Democrats and undermine public support for Senate Republicans.

"DeLay Says Federal Judiciary Has 'Run Amok,' Adding Congress Is Partly to Blame," Carl Hulse and David D. Kirkpatrick, New York Times, 4/8/05

" 'Judicial independence does not equal judicial supremacy,' Mr. DeLay said in a videotaped speech delivered to a conservative conference in Washington entitled 'Confronting the Judicial War on Faith.' Mr. DeLay faulted courts for what he said was their invention of rights to abortion and prohibitions on school prayer, saying courts had ignored the intent of Congress and improperly cited international standards and precedents....

"'The failure is to a great degree Congress's,' Mr. DeLay said. 'The response of the legislative branch has mostly been to complain. There is another way, ladies and gentlemen, and that is to reassert our constitutional authority over the courts.'... 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."