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(DV) Charles: Thugs Attack Federal Judges!







Thugs Attack Federal Judges!
No, we’re not talking about the judge shot in Atlanta or the murder of a judge’s family in Chicago. The judiciary in America is being mugged by Republican zealots on Capitol Hill, led by their very own monsta rappas, Tom DeLay and John Cornyn.
by James Charles
April 12, 2005

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For mere mortals, threatening a judge is a federal offense, punishable by a fine, imprisonment or both. But, apparently the same rules don’t apply if you’re Tom DeLay or a Republican member of the United States Senate.

Mrs. Terri Schiavo’s body had barely been removed from her hospice when the House majority leader ominously warned a corridor scrum of reporters that "the time will come" when the federal judges who refused to become involved in the Republican’s gruesome game of deathbed politics would “answer for their behavior.” Mr. DeLay may not have realized what interesting company he was keeping by becoming the latest in a long line of prominent world figures going back as far as Torquemada and, in more modern times, includes prominent politicians such as Josef Goebbels, Joseph Stalin, Idi Amin and countless Asian, African and Latin American despots, to demand that the judiciary bow to the will of political and religious zealots.

Interestingly, since Mr. DeLay seemed to be including judges appointed by flaming liberals such as Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush in his wrath, apparently his litmus test is not that a judge merely be a conservative or a Republican to escape punishment on the rack. Rather, to his mind, any judge risks being drawn and quartered who is not a docile political fool who will put their imprimatur on every ill-conceived, idiotic or unconstitutional piece of legislation that Congress or a state legislature decides to pass.

Far from being embarrassed by Mr. DeLay’s frightening outburst, on April 4, 2005 he was joined by Senator John Cornyn, a Texas Republican and member of the Judiciary Committee which is charged with protecting the Constitution and its guarantee of an independent judiciary. Standing on the Senate floor, Sen. Cornyn linked the recent courthouse murder of an Atlanta judge by a career criminal desperate to escape another trial, and the Chicago judge whose mother and husband were killed execution style by a paranoid delusional who went amok after having his frivolous lawsuit dismissed, with judges who frustrate the public by “making political decisions” that results in a growing anger.

Apparently, Sen. Cornyn, who -- like Attorney General Alberto Gonzales -- was a Texas Supreme Court judge before being elected to the Senate, thinks that two sociopaths reflect American values. Worse, by his very words, the Senator reveals that not only does he not understand American values, he has no knowledge of the Constitution in which the framers quite deliberately created three branches of government so each could watch over the other two. For good measure, they ensured that federal judges are appointed for life to prevent political interference in their deliberations.

Oh, wait; it must be my mistake. My education went terribly awry somewhere along the line. Sen. Cornyn thumbs his nose at the notion of separation of powers. In his world, the Supreme Court should be “an enforcer of political decisions made by elected representatives of the people.”

Not only does the current mob in Washington sneer at checks and balances, they have a unique reading of something they think is in the Constitution. At university, I took a graduate seminar on the Constitution and have absolutely no recollection of Cornyn’s fascinating concept being part of either the document we studied or the spirited dialogue we had in class. We did have several two hour, freewheeling discussions during that warm spring too many years ago on the court’s role in preventing what the professor called “the tyranny of the majority.” Apparently, the 190,000-odd last-minute Ohio voters in November who gave the state and thus the presidency to George W. Bush again intended for that archaic concept to be eliminated from public policy.

There was a time when comments like Mr. DeLay’s and Mr. Cornyn’s came only from extreme elements of the lunatic fringe. They were found in crumpled John Birch Society pamphlets, and on hand-printed sandwich boards carried by men who hadn’t shaved in a few days and wore frayed shirts and old, scuffed shoes as they marched back-and-forth every afternoon in front of the court house downtown. People snickered at them as they walked by. Now, the same words are being uttered by powerful men in the halls of Congress and go unchallenged by colleagues and reporters alike.

We could snicker at DeLay, Cornyn & Company, too, except they’re deadly serious. Unlike the sad old man who paraded in front of the county court house back home, they are in a position to put their words into action.

The threat of eliminating filibusters as a tool to block Pres. Bush’s worst judicial appointments -- the so-called “nuclear option” -- is the first likely test of whether the far right has enough power in the Senate to implement the fringe components of its agenda. The answer will lie with moderate Republicans, who will have to muster tremendous political courage to go against a leadership that has shown in previous elections it’s not above working to defeat a Republican incumbent it doesn’t like. But it also is the responsibility of Senate Democrats to hold fast, so that Republicans who might vote with them won’t have their votes wasted even as they risk their political careers being threatened by their own party.

Meanwhile, it is likely that judges will be subjected to more muggings every time a court hands down a decision that the political thugs on the far right don’t like. After all, their gang leader living over in that big white house at the other end of the street abrogates international treaties, disregards international law, blurs the clear Constitutional separation of church and state and tramples civil liberties is setting an example for his home boyz to follow.

There is a bright side, though.

It is the realization that perhaps Mr. DeLay, Dr. Frist, Sen. Cornyn and their fellow heavies in Congress might be living proof of the old adage that half the people in the country who went to university graduated in the bottom 50% of their class. It only becomes scary when some of them get elected to public office.

James Charles is a writer living in Toronto. His next book is Life In The Dominion: An Ex-Pat American’s Affectionate Look At Living In Canada. Reach him by e-mail at:

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* Washington's Darkest Secret
* The White House Plays Extreme Dodge Ball
* Public Transit is a Moveable Feast
* Ready for Pentagon TV?
* Is Anything an “Experience” When Everything Is?
* Everyone Take Another Step To The Right
* It Was Fun Being a Baby Boomer -- Until We Realized How Old We’re Getting
* Encountering Hunter Thompson