Skip to comments.Schlafly: Picking Federal Judges' Party Matters Less Than Limiting Their Power(thoughtful!)
Posted on 06/01/2005 1:29:23 PM PDT by CHARLITE
A well-known conservative and founder of the grassroots public policy organization Eagle Forum says it is not as important to get people of a particular political camp appointed to the federal bench as it is to limit what judges will have the jurisdiction to rule on once they get there.
Political commentators agree that the long-threatened Senate filibuster showdown and the tentative compromise that was eventually reached were all about one thing -- the imminent battle over the likely appointments of judges to the U.S. Supreme Court in the next few years. Most pundits seem to feel everything depends on whether a liberal or conservative judge is appointed; however, conservative author and Eagle Forum founder Phyllis Schlafly contends that is not the case.
Schlafly says the activist federal judiciary that is already in place in the U.S. makes it clear that the important thing is not the politics of appointed judges, but the scope of the rulings they take it upon themselves to issue. "It is likely that a number of vacancies on the federal bench will need to be filled," she notes, "and, yes, it's likely that President Bush will appoint some good people." But it is also likely, the conservative spokeswoman adds, that "a lot of good people turn bad after they get on the court, as we have seen with some of the previous appointments by Republicans."
With the lifetime appointments Supreme Court justices and other federal judges have, Schlafly observes, activist judges have the potential to do tremendous harm by legislating from the bench according to their personal agendas, as many have done already. "And therefore," she says, "the most important thing [U.S. lawmakers need to do] is to cut the power of the courts so they can't do any more damage."
In her recently released book, The Supremacists: The Tyranny of Judges and How to Stop It, Schlafly offers strategies for addressing the problem of judges who legislate from the bench. Combating judicial activism, she contends, is the most important task of congressional legislators right now because, whether appointees are conservative or liberal, all have the potential to get carried away with their power.
"What happens to these judges once they get on the court," Eagle Forum's founder says, "[is that they start] to think they are better and smarter and wiser than the rest of us, and they can say the Constitution means whatever they want it to mean." The proof of this, she asserts, is the turning of several Supreme Court judges nominated by President Ronald Reagan who are now considered liberal.
Schlafly says rather than count on conservative judicial appointments, Congress should use the powers granted to them in Article III of the U.S. Constitution to limit the federal courts' jurisdiction and cut the budgets of federal judges.
Faith, Filibusters, and Finger-Pointing But although Schlafly sees the partisanship issue as secondary in the judicial debate, sharply divided religious leaders on the Left and the Right have focused on the filibuster as a primary bone of contention. Conservative Christian voices raised in support for Bush's judicial nominees are still calling for a decisive ban on the Democrat filibusters that have, up until a recent compromise, kept the president's judicial picks from getting a straight up-or-down vote. Meanwhile, many on the religious Left continue to defend the filibuster, even as they criticize Christian conservatives for supposedly politicizing their faith.
Conservative Alan Wisdom of the Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD) says he finds it odd that religious supporters of Bush's nominees have been "widely chastised for mixing religion in affairs of state, when equally outspoken religious opponents of those same judges have not been maligned." IRD points out that when Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (Republican) addressed a Family Research Council event last month to arouse support for Bush nominees and for possible action to break to break any filibuster against them, many critics -- including some mainline Protestant denomination officials -- widely condemned Senator Frist for allegedly injecting religion into the debate.
But at the same time, certain leaders of those same mainline denominations have since been urging support for the continued practice of judicial filibustering. The presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America wrote Frist and accused him of "political manipulation" on the filibuster issue. National Council of Churches chief Bob Edgar signed a letter to both the Senate majority and minority leaders, urging that they protect senators' right to filibuster the judicial nominees.
Also, the stated clerk of the Presbyterian Church USA joined a media conference call, along with other liberal mainline churches, to lament religious conservative opposition to the practice. And the United Methodist Women's organization even launched a "Save the Filibuster" campaign.
Although the IRD took no official position on judicial filibustering, Wisdom wonders, "Why do critics cry 'theocracy' when conservative parachurch groups, funded by people who share their political convictions, speak up for those convictions?" And why, he asks, do the same critics "accept the liberal political advocacy of mainline church officials, who use offering plate money to oppose the political convictions of most of their active members?"
Which way the club swings seems to be more of value, than who is swinging the club to MSM.
It's as if the football referees for Ohio and Michigan State football games were going past the rule book, and inventing rules on the fly, in order to be fair and insure an equitable outcome. If Ohio has been scoring too much lately, then lets count their touchdowns as five points, and Michigan as seven, instead of the traditional six points. The rule book becomes a "living document", and what matters is no longer equal opportunity, but equal outcomes. If the game is not close, it must be that it is not fair.
If this became accepted practice, then what had been a boring selection of referees for the big game would become a hotly contested decision, as each school maneuvered to get referees selected that they thought would be favorable to their side. The news that a nephew of one of the candidate judges had once attended Michigan State would be a proper cause for outrage amongst the Ohio fans.
The answer, which would (hopefully) be obvious in college football, but that seems to escape us (well, all but a few perceptive ones, such as Schlafly) is not to raise the ante for getting favorable referees in place, but to return referees to their traditional role - applying the rules in the book.
If and when one of the rules is getting to be a bother, follow the procedures in place to change the rules. Meanwhile, until the rule is changed, the ref enforces it as written, with modest discretion and the usual human fallibility.
Mrs. Schlafly is correct, but short of Tom Delay, who in our illustrious congressional and senatorial delegations are going to take on this task? Very, very few Republicans are interested in reining in the judiciary and no Democrats are. Looks hopeless to me, but I do agree that is what needs to be done (even if it won't.)
[Although the IRD took no official position on judicial filibustering, Wisdom wonders, "Why do critics cry 'theocracy' when conservative parachurch groups, funded by people who share their political convictions, speak up for those convictions?" And why, he asks, do the same critics "accept the liberal political advocacy of mainline church officials, who use offering plate money to oppose the political convictions of most of their active members?"]
Liberal evangelical denominations are the same people who also vote liberal democrats politicians and liberal God hating perverted judges into positions of power and expect to overturn the American bill of rights.