Monday, April 11, 2005

Stop Activist Judges Update:

The blogsphere has taken note of the radically revisionist, extremist conference put on by, which featured a number of former and present Congressmen and Judges as well as mainstream religious rights figures. And they picked up on a few things that I missed.

The Washington Post has a great article, mentioned by Andrew Sullivan, noting (what I missed) that one presenter, Edwin Vieira, argued that Kennedy should be impeached because his jurisprudence "upholds Marxist, Leninist, satanic principles drawn from foreign law." He then quoted Stalin and insinuated that Justice Kennedy would be better off dead. Salon goes into this in detail.

"Here again I draw on the wisdom of Stalin. We're talking about the greatest political figure of the 20th century … He had a slogan, and it worked very well for him whenever he ran into difficulty. 'No man, no problem.'"

The audience laughed, and Vieira repeated it. "'No man, no problem.' This is not a structural problem we have. This is a problem of personnel."

....[T]he full Stalin quote is this: "Death solves all problems: no man, no problem."...

Was Vieira calling for assassination? I'm not sure. The conference's rhetoric, though, certainly suggested that judges deserve to reap the horrors they have ostensibly sown. The affair finished with a rousing speech by recent Republican senatorial candidate Alan Keyes, who drew enthusiastic applause when he said, "I believe that in our country today the judiciary is the focus of evil."

Then Reason, linking to Is that Legal, wonders whether this qualifies as incitement to murder a federal official, which, in turn would require an investigation of Mr. Vieira (who would, of course, then play the victim card).

The Salon article also, in a harsh (but I'd argue duly harsh) way lays into the conference for its utterly revisionist history of our "Christian Founding" (and when the presenters say "Christian" they attach a very specific, i.e., Biblical Fundamentalist, meaning to that term).

They believe in a revisionist history, taught in Christian schools and spread through Christian media, which claims biblical law as the source of the Constitution. Thus any ruling that contradicts their theology seems to them to be de facto unconstitutional, and its enforcement tyrannical....

"Our Founding Fathers," [one of the conference presenters] said, "they were going to take the word of God, and God has given us in the Bible his word, and they said this book will always be true, and if there is ever a close call in policy, in leadership, in law, in society, if there's ever a question, we want to look to the source of absolute truth. That's why the Ten Commandments are so important. They were the original source of American law."

That version of history is taught at Christian schools like Jerry Falwell's Liberty University, Gibbs' alma mater. It is also a virtual fairy tale. The Constitution contains not a single mention of God, Christianity or the Bible. As the historians Isaac Kramnick and R. Laurence Moore wrote in their book "The Godless Constitution," such secularism wasn't lost on an earlier generation of Christian conservatives, who decried America's founding document as a sin against God.

They quote the Rev. Timothy Dwight, president of Yale College, who said in 1812, "The nation has offended Providence. We formed our Constitution without any acknowledgement of God; without any recognition of His mercies to us, as a people, of His government or even of His existence. The [Constitutional] Convention, by which it was formed, never asked even once, His direction, or His blessings, upon their labours. Thus we commenced our national existence under the present system, without God."

If the Judeo-Christian Council for Constitutional Restoration has its way, the present system will soon be coming to an end.


Marty said...

First, the references to Stalin are deplorable. Murdered judges are no joke.

Second, even if you're right that religion was not a founding principle behind the creation of the U.S.A, it does you no good in this debate. If "Rights" do not come from a "Higher Authority", then they must certainly come from "We The People".

And for judges to make such proclaimations utterly against the expressed will of We The People, well, it's easy to see why some people resort to tyrannical hyperbole. Higher Authority indeed!

Marty said...

Thirdly, it has become clear that the U.S. Constitution is indeed a "living breathing document". As a social conservative, even I have to concede that.

But if the Constitution is going to change over time, as it should, then what? Should we use the slow and deliberative process set forth in the document itself, to manage it's own life according to the goals of We The People? Or shall we trust it to a few all-too-human "higher authorities" to always know what's best for us, and to look out for our own long-term best interest via judicial fiat?

I always get a laugh when SSM advocates decry the "hastiness" and "knee-jerkiness" of these various state Marriage Amendments. As if the alternative is not twice as bad and thrice as emotionally driven!

Mateo said...

I don't know Marty, I guess the judge, like Madison and Jefferson, just thought that individuals are ordained with inalieable rights that can't be taken away by bigotted mob rule.

Marty said...

I think the constitutional amendment process is EXACTLY what Madison and Jefferson had in mind, to keep "mob rule" from running amok. Somehow they never seemed to envision a Judiciary running ramshod over the will of the people. Or if they did, the Amendment process is probably the preferred response.

So far, the system is working - slowly. We the People just aren't buying what you're selling, and further attempts to force it on an unwilling citizenry will win you no friends at all.

Jonathan said...

Given that the Amendment process requires supermajorities, I don't think that this is what they had in mind to keep us from mob rule.

I think there were a variety of things they had in mind. And not all of their ideas about how to check majority power necessarily turned out to be effective. And some we have scrapped, by Constitutional Amendment.

For instance, the fact that Senators weren't directly elected but rather appointed by the state governments was an anti-democratic check on mob-rule that we scrapped by Constitutional Amendment, in favor of a more majoritarian democratic approach. The electoral college is also more anti-democratic and majoritarian than would direct election of the President. And that we have held onto.

On another note Jefferson was so anti-Federal government power that he didn't believe in giving the Feds the power to enforce natural rights; he thought they'd best be enforced by the states. But he turned out to be wrong there. And that's why we got the 14th Amendment.

The Supreme Court has to watch out when they issue decisions that are extremely contra-majoritarian, because we don't want riots in the streets.

The court was walking on thin ice with Brown precisely because we had already been through one civil war with the South but didn't want another one.

Timing of constitutional decisions is important. There is a good reason why the Loving decision, for instance, took place in 1967 and not 1868 just after the 14th Amendment was ratified. In 1967 only about 15 or so states had anti-race-mixing laws left. Similarly in 2003, only about 15 states had sodomy laws left. Perfect timing for both.

In terms of gay marriage, it wouldn't be a good idea for the Court to guarantee such a right any time soon because the nation isn't ready for it.

When around 35 states on their own have recognized gay marriage, that would be the prudent time for the court to seriously consider whether there "is" such a right under the Federal Constitution.

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