Sunday, April 10, 2005

Stringing the Beads

Ladies and Gentlemen, my light bulb just clicked on.

Sometimes, working a puzzle can be frustrating. You have a clear idea of what your driving at, but can't find the right piece to pull two sections together or just to simply show you where you're headed. Blogging is the opposite. It's more like putting a puzzle together with all the pieces up side down, hoping it'll make sense when you flip it over. The whole story is rarely out there, especially when the story is a little stinky or when it's noisy subterfuge to cover quiet backroom tactics.

Sometimes, you just get lucky.

My intent was to blog about the conference "Confronting the Judicial War on Faith", a conference yielding gems like these:

[L]awyer-author Edwin Vieira told the gathering that [Justice] Kennedy should be impeached because his philosophy, evidenced in his opinion striking down an anti-sodomy statute, “upholds Marxist, Leninist, satanic principles drawn from foreign law.”

Ominously, Vieira continued by saying his “bottom line” for dealing with the Supreme Court comes from Joseph Stalin. “He had a slogan, and it worked very well for him, whenever he ran into difficulty: ‘no man, no problem,’ ” Vieira said.

The full Stalin quote, for those who don’t recognize it, is “Death solves all problems: no man, no problem.” -- Dana Milbank, Washington Post.

Stalin as an inspiration? Vieira stating that Kennedy's decision was based on principles drawn from foreign law and then quoting Stalin, a Soviet? Man, I could have a field day here. Then I started thinking about a couple of things. Cornyn, Frist, Delay, Cheney, Schiavo... and two other little things popped into focus: Bush, and the Constitutional Restoration Act.

CLICK. There goes my light bulb.

Let's string these beads, shall we?

HR 3799 and S 2082 are both introduced into the houses of Congress in March, 2004. The bill appears to make it illegal for higher courts to review cases by lower courts on decisions regarding things like allowing the Ten Commandments to be posted at court houses. Other parts of the bill provide for more sweeping control measures like banning judges from basing decisions on "international organizations" and "foreign states." If you were staring down the barrel of a potential illegal war, this sounds like a good way to avoid prosecution for war crimes or profiteering. Constitutional Restoration Act? More like Cover Your Backside Act.

According to C-SPAN, the plans for the "Confronting the Judicial War on Faith" conference began in February.

Terri Shiavo dies amid the whipping to a frenzy of the masses. I suspect Rove and company believed they could use Terri politically to boost HR 3799. Winning the Schiavo battle would make it difficult for any Rep or Senator to oppose a bill allowing the Ten Commandments into court houses, and all that extra stuff packed in the bill would just kick back and enjoy the ride into law. Why rock the boat if Dubya and the gang had won over public opinion based on the poignancy of Terri Shiavo's battle for life. Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed after Bush hightailed it out of Texas to sign "the Terri law" and public support dwindled. The Whitehouse backed away from it.

Tom Delay comes out swinging March 31st against Federal judges, commenting that "the time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior."

Sen. John Cornyn addressed the Senate on April 4th, claiming that violence against judges was a result of their wayward decision making rather than the fact that the people coming before them were short the perquisite number of bricks.

In an abrupt about face, on April 5th Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said he thinks the judiciary is "fair and independent."

On Friday, April 8th, Vice President Dick Cheney told the New York Post he would have problems with punishing judges for their legal rulings.

Talk about an ugly necklace.

Why the back pedaling? It's clear the signal was given to back away from Delay. The average Joe is reading the news, and it's coming across that Delay is an arrogant, obsessed power maniac. All the big media has picked it up, and considering their normal docility towards the administration, it's hard not to be believe that they got the OK to run on Delay. (Sorry, journalists, but that's how I see it.)

It's possible Dubya didn't realize he had a mess here, but I'm quite certain Karl Rove did. Rove intended to USE the religious right to achieve his goal. If they got what they wanted and he got what he wanted, that's a beautiful thing. But, in Rove's world, the goal always has precedence over the means. If the thing with the religious right didn't work out, so be it.

This was NEVER about Terri Schiavo, NEVER about liberal judges, NEVER about judiciary decisions regarding abortion or gay marriage or even gay sex. NEVER.

The whole, complete and entire purpose of this 14 month fiasco was to redefine the role of the judiciary.

They are screwing with our Constitution, people.

Redefining the role of the judiciary and packing it with judges they feel they can control gives them the get out of jail free card they need, and carte blanc to conduct themselves unfettered. They justify their assault on the judicial power by scaring the religious right. They are MANIPULATING their base for their OWN purposes, not the goals of the religious right. The religious right wants specific decisions overturned. The administration wants to cement their power by destroying the third of it they can't control. Which, by the way, is precisely the role of the judiciary as defined in the Constitution. They ensure that laws are enacted and enforced within the bounds of the Constitution. They do not care and should not respond to the pressure or desires of a frenzied majority.

So, what's the game plan now? The reason they abandoned Delay was to keep us absorbed in his flame out and OFF HR 3799 and S 2082. This is the real baby, this is the one worth circling the wagons. Lots of protection, power and control are riding on this.

SO, as juicy a bit of road kill as Tom Delay may be, or as tempting as the conference "Confronting the Judicial War on Faith" is, keep your eye on the prize. Talk about this Constitutional Restoration Act. Build it up and get it moving. We need this bill killed. If we don't, this bill will kill our Constitution.

This string of beads could hang us all.


At April 10, 2005 11:24 AM, Blogger frstlymil said...

Brilliant as usual, Jet, and quite possibly the most frightening observation yet. Like those who had no remorse over killing their best friend over gold during the gold rush - one wonders at the lack of conscience in the minds behind the thinly veiled quest for a dictatorship on American soil.

At April 10, 2005 7:33 PM, Blogger Tom Harper said...

Great post. This Constitutional Restoration Act is definitely something to keep an eye on. The Right's biggest complaint against the judicial branch is that they haven't found a way to purchase it. The executive and legislative branches are all bought and paid for, owned and operated by Big Business and rightwing pressure groups. They haven't been able to buy the judiciary yet, and they're determined to make an end run around them, whatever it takes.

At April 11, 2005 12:01 AM, Blogger -E said...

You think that people would open their eyes to this stuff don't ya?

At April 11, 2005 7:36 AM, Blogger Brother Kenya said...

Nice work, Jet. It reminds me of the legislation hanging in the background somewhere that declares that all law derives from God.

These people have had the Constitution in their sites for some time -- weakening it if not making it entirely irrelevant. As Gore Vidal said recently, the institutions we thought were sacrosanct, aren't. Clearly, we have to protect them ourselves.

At April 11, 2005 10:00 AM, Blogger Snave said...

Great post, great weblog! This has always been one of my major complaints about the right wing leaders of today. I think it was at the 1992 GOP convention when Bush Sr. made his snotty comment about the three little letters the Democrats don't have... G-O-D. It was from that time on I decided once and for all that the GOP was being led by kookballs.

Yes, they are definitely toying with our Constitution. If the real, true rightwingers were to wake up, these "leaders" of ours would have their heads served to the public on platters.

At April 11, 2005 2:00 PM, Blogger JD said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At April 11, 2005 2:03 PM, Blogger JD said...

Jet, calm down. Remember that the Constitution is a living document (no pun intended Ms. Shiavo), so anytime Congress or the courts choose on whim to update it should be of no consequence to the "people".

At April 11, 2005 2:48 PM, Blogger Jet said...

snave and -e, great to see you here.

jd; In the 1930's Roosevelt was guilty of trying to do the same thing. Actually, he tried twice. The Senators who composed the Judiciary Committee's report reined him in, but at the time, this was a huge story. From the Supreme Court Historical Society :

The plan, the report said, revealed "the futility and absurdity of the devious." An effort "to punish the Justices" whose opinions were resented, the bill was "an invasion of judicial power such as has never before been attempted in this country." If enacted, it would create a "vicious precedent which must necessarily undermine our system."
Without ever directly saying that Roosevelt was another Hitler, the report called attention to "the condition of the world abroad" and maintained that any attempt to impair the independence of the judiciary led ineluctably to autocratic dominance, "the very thing against which the American Colonies revolted, and to prevent which the Constitution was in every particular framed." Consequently, the report concluded, "[w]e recommend the rejection of this bill as a needless, futile, and utterly dangerous abandonment of constitutional principle." In a final thundering sentence that, before the day was out, would be quoted in every newspaper in the land, the report ended: "It is a measure which should be so emphatically rejected that its parallel will never again be presented to the free representatives of the free people of America."

I believe it was wrong then. It's just as wrong today.

At April 12, 2005 5:28 AM, Blogger David Hunley said...


You didn't even try to understand what Senator Cornyn was saying did you? Worse, it's obvious that you don't even understand the constitution or the role of the judiciary branch that you claim to be defending. You just put on that well worn tin-foil hat and away you ran---chasing bogey men that only you and your kind can see.
If you had taken the time to discern what Senator Cornyn was really saying, you'd know he was actually defending the constitution. He was trying to defend it against foreign influences that may not reflect the wishes of the American people; he was trying to make clear that the role of the Judiciary branch was to make rulings based on the laws written by representatives elected by the American people. And, indeed, he was trying to defend the right of states to make their own know, those very same laws that were used to kill Terri Schiavo? Or that outlawed sodomy? What you want to do is pick and choose--based on your own personal desires--which laws will be applied and which laws will be ignored and---just like certain judges---you don't want to have to deal with the wishes of the American people while you do so.
This is quite obvious with judges, for they pick and choose the aspect or particular law of the foreign country they choose to cite. Senator Cornyn made this clear too. How would you feel if Ginsberg cited the law of a country that outlawed abortion for instance? That tin-foil hat you're wearing would be lighting up like a Christmas tree!
Sorry Jet, this post is a few pearls short of a necklace.

At April 12, 2005 2:56 PM, Blogger Jet said...

Hello David, and welcome to God Dem.

I read Sen. Cornyn's entire floor speech. As is the norm for such, it's purpose is to state a given Senator's position, and attempt to persuade others to see his/her point of view. Sen. Cornyn's speech involved citing several cases he did not like and several he did that were overruled 15 - 20 years later. He specifically listed incidences that support his theory of foreign influence. He also surmised that the reason judges are attacked by defendants is based on the defendants disappointment in the judges succumbing to the undue influence of foreign courts rather than the more likely scenario that the defendants ire over being found guilty of their charges.

This post was not specifically about Sen. Cornyn. I saw his speech as part of a pattern rather than the focal point. This post was concerning HR 3799, which specifies the following:

HR 3799 would strip the federal courts of jurisdiction to hear cases involving governmental invocations of God in First Amendment cases.

HR 3799 would make it an impeachable offense for a judge to decide that HR 3799 violates the constitution. In other words, overturn the principle that the ultimate power to decide if laws violate the constitution resides with the judiciaries. If the true goal is to curb foreign influence, why the clause to impeach judges who rule on the constutionality of the bill? Obviously, if the bill IS constitutionally sound, this would never come up. Methinks something carries an odor here.

This bill, along with HR 3313 (Marriage Protection Act) and HR 2028 (Pledge Protection Act 2003) are unconstitutional because they violate separation of powers, due process, equal protection and the supremacy clause.

You mentioned that Cornyn was trying to make clear that the role of the Judiciary was to make ruling based on the laws written by representatives. The role of the Judiciary is to make rulings within the bounds of the Constitution. If the law legalizing abortion were overturned, I would be bound by that law. I'm not sure where your were going with that. The law is the law. I don't ignore them. I don't even drive fast.

Also, this is a nice place. Kind of a tea and crumpets place (if you know what I mean). ;-) I welcome your comments, but a softer tone would be greatly appreciated.

At April 12, 2005 3:20 PM, Blogger Brother Kenya said...

Jet, Your decorum and politesse are admirable!

At April 13, 2005 9:08 AM, Blogger TrueJerseyGirl said...

I have to just throw you a quick compliment - I love reading you. Each time I do, I learn something new whether I agree with you or not (but I usually do). Thanks.

At April 13, 2005 1:25 PM, Blogger David Hunley said...

Out of respect for your blog and the request to do so, I will refrain from histrionics in this post.

Jet, to begin with...Senator Cornyn's comments could hardly be called a "surmise", he merely opined---however tenuously---that actions taken by certain judges might be reducing the respect normally accorded judges. It was a minute point, made with great effort to be clear he did not condone nor promote it or even issue it in a blanket way. To consider it a surmise is stretching it to say the least. The overriding message intended to illustrate the dangers of turning to foreign law for precedents in determining laws that affect American society; laws, I might add, that are chosen at personal whim on a case by case basis depending on how they view our society should "mature".
I would hope you could see the danger in this. Your use of Stalin is a very good point on this matter. What if a particular group of Supreme Court judges felt they could turn to a foreign law to determine that a divorce could be obtained by announcing three times "I divorce you!'? What if it turned to a foreign law that denied the right to criticize the ruling government? Just because we personally like the laws being chosen to set precedent today, doesn't mean we will like them tomorrow. I mean, how can you argue that our constitution shouldn't be the sole document that guides our judges? It is more than a "theory" of foreign influence when the Supreme Court Justice actually state that they looked to international law for precedent. Although you say this post was not specifically about was included as one of your pearls. So can we now dismiss it as one of those pearls? If not, why?
Choosing Edwin Vieira to make your point would be like someone choosing Ward Churchill to make their point that college campuses are filled with a bunch of America hating academics. We should be wary of anyone who uses this tactic.
Concerning HR 3799 and S 2082. You say "The bill appears to make it illegal for higher courts to review cases by lower courts on decisions regarding things like allowing the Ten Commandments to be posted at court houses." (emphasis added). To me, it appears to allow state court houses to decide for themselves via elected official. The constitution doesn't ban the right of a group of people to worship as you see merely bans the designation of an official religion. As long as those people are not violating someone else's rights accorded under the problem. The bills also appears to protect government officials from persecution for saying "all laws flow from God!". It doesn't require him to do so---he can say the god-of-the-berry bush if he wanted to; it merely allows him speech and all that.
And this "The role of the Judiciary is to make rulings within the bounds of the Constitution." why would we want to look to laws outside our constitution a la foreign law. Now can you see where I'm going?
H.R. 3313, although not mentioned in your original post, prevents an unelected judge in to strike down DOMA (which was approved by elected officials by a 342-67 House and 85-14 Senate margin) and forcing their definition of marriage onto every other state. Rather that upset the system of check and balance, it could be argued that it is actually an exercise of just that---the balance of power by judicial judges checked by the balance of those representated.
You made a lot of bold statements in your post, Jet, based solely on conjecture and your interpretation of events. While your decorum and politeness may be admirable, your (and how do I say this in a tea and crumpets setting?) logic is not.

At April 13, 2005 6:13 PM, Blogger Dr. Forbush said...

Wonderful and insightful post. I noticed that your right wing readers are expressing the view that the administration is marketing. They read the propaganda and spit it back.

Obviously the action of these people further empowers the radical right. They won't realize that they are the stooges of the radical right until the people have lost all their power.

Posts like this point out the details behind the smoke and mirrors of the radical right, but the un-Democratic action of these guys continues to market every plausible possibility accept the truth.

At April 14, 2005 1:26 AM, Blogger David Hunley said...

Dr. Forbush,

Since it appears that I am the only one in here that could be remotely considered right-wing (as defined by you of course), I have to assume it is I you refer to as reading propaganda and spitting it back. I suspect it will do me no more good than it has in the past...but, once again, I invite you to point out the flaws in the logic of my post. What is it, particularly, that you find faulty? What aspect of the bills (or even Cornyn's speech) was misrepresented in the post? I'm waiting---but I'm not holding my breath.


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