Sunday, April 10, 2005

THE BOSTON GLOBE has an article about the growing split in the Republican Party between those like Tom DeLay and his supporters, who think that Terri Schiavo was "judicially murdered" and want to take control of the judiciary, and others, like George and Jeb Bush and Dick Cheney, who say they did as much as they could within the law and who have distanced themselves from DeLay's comments about "activist judges."

It's very scary when a politically significant part of the Republican Party has become so extreme that Pres. Bush and Dick Cheney start to look reasonable and moderate.

It's also scary that, although the Boston Globe article uses the term "conservative leaders" to describe the group of individuals who were part of the meeting sponsored by the Judeo-Christian Council for Constitutional Restoration, a great number of them seem to be radical fundamentalist religious figures, not elected officials. Former federal judge Roy Moore is one of them. And Rick Scarborough, a Baptist minister, is chair of the Council.

These people think that Jeb Bush should have taken physical custody of Terri Schiavo, using police power to stop any attempts by the courts to enforce legal decisions. They think that Gov. Bush should have had Terri Schiavo's feeding tube reinserted by force in defiance of rulings by every court involved in this case. They think that judges who rule in ways that the Judeo-Christian Council and its followers don't like should be impeached; that Congress should take away funding for courts deemed by this group of people to be "activist"; that the legislative and executive branches should even strip the judicial branch of the power to hear cases on "sensitive" social issues.

While conservatives have long accused liberal judges of making, rather than interpreting, laws, Massachusetts' adoption of gay marriage last year and Schiavo's death last week have magnified their fury. Whereas before they complained about ''judicial arrogance," speakers this week accused courts of ''gang violence" and waging ''unholy war" -- and drew applause when they called for the removal of judges who believe that interpretations of the US Constitution should change with the times. Representative Lamar Smith, Republican of Texas and a member of the House Judiciary Committee, called the situation ''a crisis."

If there's a crisis, it's being created by people who have written legislation that would bar the Supreme Court from hearing cases in which public officials have stated that God is "the sovereign source of law, liberty, or government"; and that forbids judges to mention laws or policies in other countries, on pain of impeachment. This proposed legislation is real. It's H.R. 3799, the Constitutional Restoration Act -- an Orwellian misnomer of the first order. Because, despite Tom DeLay's belief that "Congress should reassert [its] constitutional authority over our courts," the reality is that the Constitution does not grant Congress authority over the judicial branch that is greater than the authority it grants the judicial branch over Congress. Tom DeLay is the one who should be impeached -- and then required to take a basic civics course at his local high school.

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