Disinformation on Judges
of the legal and political system of this country may be on the
line when two judicial nominees that the Democrats refused to
let the Senate vote on in the last Congress are being again submitted
for a vote. Both are currently members of their respective state
supreme courts -- Justice Janice Rogers Brown from California
and Justice Priscilla Owen from Texas.
Why is this
particular vote so important?
It is important,
in the first place, because the fundamental issue is whether the
Senate will be allowed to vote at all, to fulfill its Constitutional
duty to "advise and consent" on judicial nominees by
voting them up or down.
are dug in to prevent a vote. The big question is whether the
Republicans will wimp out. Senate Republicans have the votes but
the question is whether they have the guts.
Undoubtedly there will be a political price to pay if the Republicans
force a Senate rule change to stop Democrats from filibustering
judicial nominees. But where is there anything worthwhile that
does not have a price?
This is not
about two people being nominated to be federal judges. It is about
the whole role of judges in a self-governing republic. The voters'
votes mean less and less as time goes by, when judges take more
and more decisions out of the hands of elected officials and substitute
their own policy preferences, all under the guise of "interpreting"
decide cases on the basis of the plain meaning of the words in
the laws -- like Justices Brown and Owen -- may be what most of
the public want but such judges are anathema to liberals.
are the last hope for enacting the liberal agenda because liberals
cannot get enough votes to control Congress or most state legislatures.
Unelected judges can cut the voters out of the loop and decree
liberal dogma as the law of the land.
don't want that stopped.
that is done by judicial activism extends beyond the particular
policies that happen to catch the fancy of judges. Judicial ad-libbing
creates a large area of uncertainty, making the law a trap for
honest people and a bonanza for the unscrupulous.
campaign has already been launched to depict judges who believe
in following the written law as being "activist" conservatives,
just like liberal activists.
play this game of verbal equivalence can seldom, if ever, come
up with concrete examples where conservative judges made rulings
that went directly counter to what the written law says or who
made rulings for which there is no written law.
nothing is easier to come up with than such examples among liberal
judicial activists who have made decisions based on "evolving
standards," "world opinion" or other such lofty
hokum worthy of the Wizard of Oz.
no attention to that man behind the curtain," the Wizard
said -- and "Don't attack our judges" the liberals say.
conservative Republicans have fallen for this line. President
Bush's former Solicitor General Theodore Olson recently condemned
"personal attacks" on judges by their critics, and somehow
lumped those critics with criminals or crackpots who have committed
violence against judges or their family members.
someone's official conduct is not a "personal attack."
Nor does criticism equate with violence. An independent judiciary
does not mean judges independent of the law. Nor is the rule of
judges the same as the rule of law. Too often it is the rule of
lawlessness from the bench.
try this guilt-by-association ploy to blame critics of the Reagan
administration when President Reagan was shot during an assassination
attempt? They did not.
big political and media spin is to say that we should not reduce
judges' power just because they make "decisions we don't
like." The real objection is to decisions with no basis in
the written law or even contrary to the written law.
spin will of course only escalate if activist judges start getting
replaced by judges who follow the law. That is the political price
to be paid. If people are willing to do the right thing only when
there is no cost whatever, that is the very definition of cowardice.
2005 Creators Syndicate
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