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Ah, so that's why! How silly of me!
April 4, 2005 4:44 PM   Subscribe

U.S. Senator rationalizes violence against judges: "I wonder whether there may be some connection between the perception in some quarters on some occasions where judges are making political decisions yet are unaccountable to the public, that it builds up and builds up and builds up to the point where some people engage in - engage in violence." Sen. John Cornyn, explaining today how "activist judges" are bringing it upon themselves. The full statement is a breathtaking look at the next step in the upcoming judicial wars.
posted by XQUZYPHYR (87 comments total)

 
How soon until the violence is extended to asshole Senators who make political decisions and are rarely held accountable for them as well?
posted by fenriq at 4:49 PM on April 4, 2005


Texan Mefites: is it just that your representatives are crazy? I mean, LBJ, a Democrat, wasn't known for his level-headedness either. (He didn't advocate the killing of judges, but he did do some crazy stuff.)

I guess the problem is that as long as "activist judge" meant "liberal judge", the Right could plausibly object to their decisions. Now that the Schiavo Fiasco ran headlong into judges of every political persuasion, the Right can only blame the judiciary as an institution, which is a pretty scary concept. I mean, when Justice Scalia isn't conservative enough for Cornyn, that's terrifying.

Though, it's not really his conservatism or lack thereof that's the issue, is it? It's more that the judicial process is antithetical to (with apologies to Republicans here) the wrongheaded attempt at a legislative coup that the Republicans are engaged in right now. It's the conflict of power, not the conflict of ideology.

And, friends, that's exactly why America's Founders created a separation of powers in the first damn place.
posted by socratic at 4:55 PM on April 4, 2005


Not coincidently, the judicial branch is the only part of our government that isn't under the control of right wing extremists.
posted by euphorb at 5:05 PM on April 4, 2005


"The time will come for those men responsible for this to answer for their behavior"

- Tom DeLay

It may have been posted last week, but just in case you missed it ...

It's the conflict of power, not the conflict of ideology.

I agree. You wouldn't see any gnashing or wailing if "activist" judges just ruled they way they're supposed to.

The biggest problem I see, however, is not DeLay or Cornyn 's outrageous comments. It's that most Americans agree with them.
posted by mrgrimm at 5:05 PM on April 4, 2005


I think the anti-judge rhetoric has a lot to do with Tom Delay's problems with the law. That and on the Republican assault on checks and balances.

It's interesting in light of the Andrew Mickel thread.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 5:07 PM on April 4, 2005


Judicial Wars? Bring it on !
posted by unsupervised at 5:08 PM on April 4, 2005


the judicial branch is the only part of our government that isn't under the control of right wing extremists.

A. 5-4
B. Chief Justice Scalia by the end of the year, just wait.
posted by Arch Stanton at 5:09 PM on April 4, 2005


Justice Ken Starr as soon as poor John Paul Stevens retires?
posted by matteo at 5:11 PM on April 4, 2005


It's that most Americans agree with them.

Do they? In the Schiavo case, at least, a large majority of Americans were with the courts, as revealed by several polls. These polls also seemed to suggest that Americans were as disturbed by Congress' methods as they were by its goals. I think most Americans respect the courts, and appreciate the importance of the separation of powers. They certainly don't trust politicians.
posted by mr_roboto at 5:11 PM on April 4, 2005


Well, at least he's gotten over his box turtle fixation.
posted by maryh at 5:13 PM on April 4, 2005


Is the subtext clear based on other things this person has said? Because there is a considerable distance between offering an explanation (which, it appears, is what his words are doing) and excusing, condoning, urging, or justifying such behavior.

What Delay said was clearly grounds for resignation, but is it out of bounds to think this was an attempt at explanation?
posted by ontic at 5:14 PM on April 4, 2005


Why do these Republicans hate America so much? If you don't like the seperation of powers, or the seperation of church and state, you should get out.

But my favorite part is that he's railing against the decisions made by the Supreme Court. The last time I checked, Bush was put into power by such a decision. And socratic's point about power is a good one, but the scary thing is how there just never is enough power for these Republicans. They always want more, and whatever happens, they cry foul so that they can whip up the GOP masses into somehow thinking that they are put upon. It's a disgusting display.
posted by OmieWise at 5:14 PM on April 4, 2005


Oh, and:

This thread is a litmus test.
posted by OmieWise at 5:15 PM on April 4, 2005


Supreme Court rules! Supreme Court rules!
posted by billysumday at 5:17 PM on April 4, 2005


I'd like to try and look at this argument from "the other side," but I'm having a hard enough time trying to figure out what exactly it is that he's saying... It seems his main argument is that judges bring violence upon themselves by making policy decisions that aren't in step with the sentiments of "the people."

If that's the case, then why don't we hear about violence in Vermont and Massachusetts against the judges who passed civil unions and gay marriage into law? I've lived in both states and while I've heard of plenty of calls for judges to be disbarred for allowing such horrors to happen on their watch, I haven't heard of any being taken out or seriously threatened. Maybe it's happened, but for a judge to be threatened and have it not make the local news seems highly unlikely in the current media circus.

All of the violence in the courtroom that I have heard about recently has been random or personally motivated - a judge convicts someone or passes a harsh sentence on a criminal who then decides to seek revenge. Or someone just decides enough is enough and the courtroom becomes the scene of their undoing and the judge goes down in the process. (Oversimplifying, I know.) That's not policy! That's not being out of step with the people!

From what I've seen, this argument that "activist judges" are bringing this upon themselves does not hold water.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 5:18 PM on April 4, 2005


Seriously, insist your representative and senator talk about this and demand an explanation.
posted by etaoin at 5:24 PM on April 4, 2005


Of course the idea of an activist judge doesn't hold water. It's demagoguery meant to challenge the authority of the judicial branch. The US is turning into a kleptocracy. The last thing the administration wants is a judicial system.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 5:33 PM on April 4, 2005


etaoin: Seriously, insist your representative and senator talk about this and demand an explanation

Indeed , don't forget to claim you're an actual _contributor_ (even if all you contributed was moral support) or I guess
you may find difficulties being listened to.
posted by elpapacito at 5:43 PM on April 4, 2005


Well... is he right? Has court violence gone up because people have lost respect for judges, and if so is it related to perceived "legislating from the bench"? You can be outraged over the insensitivity of his statement, but that doesn't address the issue of why these things are happening. If this is how the public perceives the court system then cloaking it in nicer language won't solve the problem.

(As it happens, I rather like how the court system is structured. And I think that Congressional Districts are a mess when some 95% of them are no-contest every year.)
posted by sbutler at 5:44 PM on April 4, 2005


Zounds!
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 5:47 PM on April 4, 2005


Not being an American, I haven't seen a lot of the fine detail that has lead to this. But I have noticed the gradual movement and co-option of language, such as "activist" becoming a pejorative meaning "doesn't make the decisions I want them to".

Sen Cornyn's comments just seem to be part of the backfill that reinforces this process.
posted by Pinback at 5:51 PM on April 4, 2005


You can be outraged over the insensitivity of his statement, but that doesn't address the issue of why these things are happening.

Doesn't matter. Post-9/11, we don't do "root causes". That's appeasement talk.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 5:52 PM on April 4, 2005


John Conyers' statement.
posted by maryh at 5:58 PM on April 4, 2005


sbutler writes " Well... is he right? Has court violence gone up because people have lost respect for judges, and if so is it related to perceived 'legislating from the bench'? You can be outraged over the insensitivity of his statement, but that doesn't address the issue of why these things are happening. If this is how the public perceives the court system then cloaking it in nicer language won't solve the problem."

If people have lost respect for judges, I would put it down to the GOP telling them over and over that judges are bad for America.

But, sbutler, I think that you miss the point with your comment, which is that it just doesn't matter. The judicial branch is the judicial branch. People who claim to not respect it simply don't respect the rule of law and the US constitution. Granting legitimacy to this Cornyn's speculation is to ignore the way in which his comment begs the question.
posted by OmieWise at 6:10 PM on April 4, 2005


Conyers: ... This apparent effort to rationalize violence against judges is deplorable. On its face, while it contains doubletalk that simultaneously offers a justification for such violence and then claims not to, the fundamental core of the statement seems to be that judges have somehow brought this violence on themselves. This also carries an implicit threat: that if judges do not do what the far right wants them to do (thus becoming the "judicial activists" the far right claims to deplore), the violence may well continue.

If this is what Senator Cornyn meant to say, it is outrageous, irresponsible and unbecoming of our leaders. To be sure, I have disagreed with many, many court rulings. (For example, Bush v. Gore may well be the single greatest example of judicial activism we have seen in our lifetime.) But there is no excuse, no excuse, for a Member of Congress to take our discourse to this ugly and dangerous extreme.

My message is not subtle today. It is simple. To my Republican colleagues: you are playing with fire, you are playing with lives, and you must stop.


Exactly. And it's not just that one Senator/Rep., as he points out.
posted by amberglow at 6:12 PM on April 4, 2005


But, sbutler, I think that you miss the point with your comment, which is that it just doesn't matter. The judicial branch is the judicial branch. People who claim to not respect it simply don't respect the rule of law and the US constitution.

If people don't respect the judicial branch because they are behaving in an unconstitutional manner then are these people still not respecting "the rule of law and the US constitution"?

As an aside, I don't like DeLay's statement either.
posted by sbutler at 6:14 PM on April 4, 2005


but the Judges are not and have not been acting in an unconstitutional manner--the Senate and House have, by overreaching and disrespecting entirely the separation of powers. It's not judges that are being "activists" or unAmerican--it's the GOP Senators and Reps.
posted by amberglow at 6:16 PM on April 4, 2005


can someone tell me the definition of an, "activist judge?"
posted by mcsweetie at 6:31 PM on April 4, 2005


Chief Justice Scalia by the end of the year, just wait

Thanks to the Daily Show: "By the time Scalia is sworn is as Chief Justice, Bush's balls will be visible from Outer Space."
posted by Slothrup at 6:31 PM on April 4, 2005


sbutler-
What amberglow said. The part of Cornyn's statement that is the most ludicrous is this claim. The judiciary is the branch that determines constitutionality. It isn't that they can't act in contradiction to the Constitution, but the statement of a GOP Senator whose anger is because he doesn't get what he wants is no demonstration of any such action by the Judiciary. We need much more than that.
posted by OmieWise at 6:35 PM on April 4, 2005


can someone tell me the definition of an "activist judge?"

Here's the idea as I understand it. The legislature passes laws. The executive branch carries out the application of those laws. And the judicial branch makes decisions when a conflict arises as a result of those laws. Occaisionally, a judge will interpret the Constitution such that there is a conflict between that document and a law. This determination effectively nullifies the law.

An "activist judge" is a judge who does this frequently, and usually one who interprets the Constitution differently than the speaker would like.
posted by Slothrup at 6:41 PM on April 4, 2005


mcsweetie writes " can someone tell me the definition of an, 'activist judge?'"

A judge that uses the bench to create rather than interpret law.

The right uses it to mean any judge that follows the Constitution and the Laws of the US to rule about issues of human rights (including abortion rights), environmental rights, and the separation of church and State.

The left uses it to mean judges that ignore the Constitution and the Laws of the US to hand down judgements that about those subjects which could not be passed as law and for which there is no precedent in case history.
posted by OmieWise at 6:44 PM on April 4, 2005


Professor Solum comments on the ambiguous meanings of "strict constructionism" and "judicial activism."
posted by monju_bosatsu at 6:47 PM on April 4, 2005


[i] can someone tell me the definition of an, "activist judge?"[/i]

Judge not in the pocket of the GOP
posted by MrBobaFett at 6:48 PM on April 4, 2005


Ok, let me try again. I am, by the way, just as sick of claims of "judicial activism" as the rest of you are. But say that Cornyn's statement was this:
"I wonder whether there may be some connection between the perception in some quarters on some occasions where judges are making political decisions yet are unaccountable to the public, led on by certain lawmakers, the press, and members of the executive branch that it builds up and builds up and builds up to the point where some people engage in - engage in violence."
Because this is what I believe and I don't think it rationalizes anything. But aside from introducing a neglected fact (that could be accounted for in "perception"), it keeps the same form.

Now if he is the kind of guy who regularly makes veiled threats, I can see reading it as saying the violence is justifed. But no one has given any evidence of that yet.
posted by ontic at 6:55 PM on April 4, 2005


FREE BRIAN NICHOLS
posted by 2sheets at 6:55 PM on April 4, 2005


Seriously, what's with all these judges not letting Conservatives actively alter the country's laws to suit their lobbyists? Clearly this is a case of a few bad apples letting their consciences get in the way of their laziness and fear. Activist bastards.
posted by shmegegge at 6:57 PM on April 4, 2005


"It seems his main argument is that judges bring violence upon themselves by making policy decisions that aren't in step with the sentiments of 'the people.'"

This sounds somewhat French to me.

Vive la révolution!
posted by weston at 7:02 PM on April 4, 2005


In Canada there is always a big hulabaloo whenever a Charter issue goes before the higher courts. The judges always present a clear and detailed examination as to how their ruling complies with the Charter.

Isn't that how it works in the USA? Don't the courts have to comply with the Constitution, and have a damn fine reason to go against it?

How, then, could any higher-court judge be deemed an "activist," when in fact they'd be a staunch conservative holding true to the ideals and aspirations of the founding fathers?
posted by five fresh fish at 7:03 PM on April 4, 2005


He was an early meme adopter (2/04): "The time has come for the appropriate committees in this body to convene hearings to determine how best we can respond to this startling display of judicial activism that so threatens our fundamental institutions and our values," Cornyn, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said from the Senate floor Friday.

The Judiciary Committee oversees legislation that could affect the Constitution.

posted by amberglow at 7:04 PM on April 4, 2005


Good enough for me. And the literal form of his words means he's a sophist as well. Run him out of town tarred and feathered for the sake of the Republic. Thanks, amberglow.
posted by ontic at 7:10 PM on April 4, 2005


I see it as more of a stupid observation than a call for violence against judges. Maybe you guys should quit being so damn alarmist.
posted by angry modem at 7:11 PM on April 4, 2005


SAVE A JUDGE, KILL A REPUBLICAN
posted by quonsar at 7:12 PM on April 4, 2005


And that's the problem with the phrase "judicial activism." One can define judicial activism in a way that doesn't boil down to "wrong," but those definitions make the phrase useless as a term of criticism. Or one can define judicial activism in such a way that it has real critical bite, but then the phrase ends up as a synonym for incorrect. Either way, "judicial activism" is not a useful term for constitutional theorists.

from the link monjo_bosatsu kindly provided.

the irony of all of this is that the republicans are acting as though they have forgotten that they have been the minority party for the better part of a century.

FDR would have loved to do away with "activist judges" who stood in the way of his social reforms.

removing the controls on "legislative activism" won't seem like such a smart idea in a few year's time when the voters take the keys away from them and put a democrat behind the wheel of their thunderbolt grease slapper.
posted by three blind mice at 7:16 PM on April 4, 2005


Bring back mob rule!

You find a rope, I'll get some tree.
posted by krisjohn at 7:18 PM on April 4, 2005


The link is too biased to make any real deduction.
posted by Dean Keaton at 7:28 PM on April 4, 2005


FDR would have loved to do away with "activist judges" who stood in the way of his social reforms.

Read--and listen--to FDR's fireside chat on the reorganization of the judiciary.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 7:28 PM on April 4, 2005


Well... is he right?

sbutler: No, he's not. The two recent high-profile acts of violence against judges were completely apolitical. I have heard nothing about a rising tide of violence against judges; there is just a coincidence of completely unrelated events.

Which is what makes this Senator's (!) comments the most sick: he is obviously playing a game. He knows damn well that recent violence against judges has nothing to do with the (fake) politics of activist judges. He really seems to be intentionally rabble rousing.

I was uncertain at first, but the more I think about it, the more I think he should resign.
posted by teece at 7:30 PM on April 4, 2005


The thing that got me was when he said "I believe that insofar as the Supreme Court has taken on this role as a policy-maker rather than an enforcer of political decisions made by elected representatives of the people..."

Um, well, the judiciary is most decidedly not just supposed to be "an enforcer of political decisions made by elected representatives of the people." That's what Cornyn and others want, but that's not the way it was designed to work. Did this guy skip his civics class in high school when they explained the separation of powers?
posted by goatdog at 7:48 PM on April 4, 2005


It's hard to reconcile a "softer" meaning when, for example, Tom Delay is attending this little shindig, supported by the Media Services Group and run by the same chucklehead who co-chairs Vision America. Y'know, the same chucklehead who uttered:

"Those who are anti-God and anti-Christian in America have infiltrated the highest levels of the educational establishment. They have a philosophical commitment to eliminating any vestige of biblical Christianity from American thought and life. They are well-positioned, well-funded and well-connected. They are a very small minority in America, yet their level of commitment is rarely matched among Christians."

The fun part is, I'm not sure who's using who here. On the one hand, Scarborough and his flunkies are finding increased leverage in the likes of Tom Delay and Roy Moore to push his notions of a theocratic America. On the other hand, Tom Delay and other neocons who realize that religion provides leverage with which to move the public may be mobilizing the troops to do their dirty work while they deflect the blame.

Either way, it seems like they're getting theocracy in my democracy. "Activist judge" seems to be a codeword not for judges that buck the system, but for judges that buck God (?).
posted by FormlessOne at 7:56 PM on April 4, 2005


Someone with more time than I did more research about the aforementioned shindig on this site.
posted by FormlessOne at 7:59 PM on April 4, 2005


Not coincidently, the judicial branch is the only part of our government that isn't under the control of right wing extremists.

Euphorb, why do you hate Amerika?
posted by AlexReynolds at 8:11 PM on April 4, 2005


Sweet, Judges blood and hypocrisy, the last two ingredients for my formula...I call it Apocalypstick...

Will our democracy soon have vestigal arms?
posted by schyler523 at 8:17 PM on April 4, 2005


Which is what makes this Senator's (!) comments the most sick: he is obviously playing a game. He knows damn well that recent violence against judges has nothing to do with the (fake) politics of activist judges. He really seems to be intentionally rabble rousing.

Well said.
posted by ludwig_van at 8:25 PM on April 4, 2005


Contact my senator. /shudders
posted by WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot at 8:27 PM on April 4, 2005


Perhaps Mr. Cornyn is also of the opinion that victims of rape brought it all upon themselves. It's the exact same argument, and it should certainly be no less repugnant because it came from a Senator.

It's rather sad that, being in control of both the legislative and executive branches, the right wing should be so insistent on openly threatening those who stand against it.
posted by clevershark at 8:33 PM on April 4, 2005


The problem is we have all these different states, and all these different courts, and in fact all these different _corporations_. It makes running the country awfully messy, doesn't it?

What this country needs is a good simplification of the antitrust laws. Fortunately, one is underway

----
The people planning this improvement in your life have a nice short three-letter URL, amc.gov:
Antitrust Modernization Commission

Studying and making recommendations on questions including:

-- Should Section 3 of the Robinson-Patman Act (providing for criminal penalties) be repealed?

-- Are there features of the modern (or “new”) economy that warrant different treatment — whether harsher or more lenient — of single-firm or vertical conduct in “new economy” industries?

-- Should the Robinson-Patman Act be repealed in whole or in part, or otherwise be modified?

-- Should the substantive standards for determining whether conduct is exclusionary or anticompetitive under either Section 1 or Section 2 of the Sherman Act be revisited?
--------

What does this have to do with judges? Well, it's those judges who've been enforcing the current law on antitrust and competition -- those activist judges, making it hard to do business the right way. What's wrong with one big company owning a market? If they're the right company.

The effort to change the rules is going on at every level.

Your opinion on this is not wanted at the present time:

"The Antitrust Modernization Commission is not currently seeking public comment. The Commission will be seeking public comment on each of the issues that it will study, and will publish details about how to submit comments regarding its study issues in the Federal Register and on its website."
posted by hank at 8:36 PM on April 4, 2005


Washington Post : "[V]ice president [Dick Cheney] said he would "have problems" with the idea of retribution against the courts. "I don't think that's appropriate," he said. "I may disagree with decisions made by judges in any one particular case. But I don't think there would be much support for the proposition that because a judge hands down a decision we don't like, that somehow we ought to go out -- there's a reason why judges get lifetime appointments."
posted by crunchland at 8:38 PM on April 4, 2005


FormlessOne writes "'Those who are anti-God and anti-Christian in America have infiltrated the highest levels of the educational establishment. They have a philosophical commitment to eliminating any vestige of biblical Christianity from American thought and life. They are well-positioned, well-funded and well-connected. They are a very small minority in America, yet their level of commitment is rarely matched among Christians.'"

"The reason why we find ourselves in a position of impotency is not because the enemy has sent men to invade our shores, but rather because of the traitorous actions of those who have had all the benefits that the wealthiest nation on earth has had to offer - the finest homes, the finest college educations, and the finest jobs in Government we can give."
Do you remember me?
posted by nkyad at 8:38 PM on April 4, 2005


Federal Laws Providing for the Death Penalty:

Attempting, authorizing or advising the killing of any officer, juror,or witness in cases involving a Continuing Criminal Enterprise, regardless of whether such killing actually occurs. (18 U.S.C. 3591(b)(2))

Food for thought.
posted by gimonca at 8:40 PM on April 4, 2005


Just a reminder that the Constitution protects speech on the Senate (and House) floor, though:

The Senators and Representatives shall receive a Compensation for their Services, to be ascertained by Law, and paid out of the Treasury of the United States. They shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place.
posted by gimonca at 8:51 PM on April 4, 2005


Otherwise, I'm guessing that 18 USC 111 would have been the law covering threats against judges. Any lawyers in the house? Anyone?
posted by gimonca at 8:53 PM on April 4, 2005


Is there another link available to the transcript of Sen. Cornyn's speech? I'm not saying that the Americablog is not legit, but it is the type of site that is a bit umm, "slanted" to say the least. I would be reassured if there was a second (perhaps more middle-of-the-road) source.

And if it this statement is true, then this guy has to go... I'm just a bit hesitant based on the source.
posted by 27 at 8:57 PM on April 4, 2005


nkyad: You realize I was quoting Scarborough, right? That quote is definitely not mine - consider me cutting a wide path around the sentiment that expressed that steaming pile of verbiage.
posted by FormlessOne at 9:01 PM on April 4, 2005


How soon until the violence is extended to asshole Senators who make political decisions and are rarely held accountable for them as well?
posted by fenriq at 4:49 PM PST on April 4 [!]


One can only hope that when violence happens to Rep. John Cornyn over past political decisions that the irony camera gets it recorded in technocolor.
posted by rough ashlar at 9:04 PM on April 4, 2005


FormlessOne writes "nkyad: You realize I was quoting Scarborough, right? That quote is definitely not mine - consider me cutting a wide path around the sentiment that expressed that steaming pile of verbiage.
"posted by FormlessOne "


Sorry - yes, it was a formatting mistake (I should have pasted your intro along). For all who are concerned,

FormlessOne have not said '"Those who are anti-God and anti-Christian in America have infiltrated the highest levels of the educational establishment. They have a philosophical commitment to eliminating any vestige of biblical Christianity from American thought and life. They are well-positioned, well-funded and well-connected. They are a very small minority in America, yet their level of commitment is rarely matched among Christians."'. Scarborough has.


posted by nkyad at 9:18 PM on April 4, 2005


irony camera gets it recorded in technocolor.

all the irony cameras and ironyometers in d.c. exploded due to overload way back in the year 2000.
posted by lord_wolf at 9:25 PM on April 4, 2005


This Washington Post article carries the same quote as that blog. It does have Cornyn's people acknowledging what he is supposed to have said, but I can't find the text of his speech outside that blog. Cornyn's website hasn't been updated for speeches since December (and probably for good reason).
posted by goatdog at 9:28 PM on April 4, 2005


goatdog: thanks.

This is scary.

Not your typical "Where are these people coming from?!" scary. This is "We don't give a shit about the rules" scary.

The frequency with which the opinions of our elected leadership (at least the majority of which) differs with my personal opinion is increasing at an amazing rate. And the gap represented by that difference is increasing at an even more amazing rate. Where does it end?
posted by 27 at 9:41 PM on April 4, 2005


"I wonder whether there may be some connection between the perception in some quarters on some occasions where judges are making political decisions yet are unaccountable to the public, that it builds up and builds up and builds up to the point where some people engage in - engage in violence."

That's the most un-American thing I've ever heard.

Cornyn should be labeled what he is: a traitor and a terrorist.
posted by bshort at 9:52 PM on April 4, 2005


Thanks for that link Goatdog. I wonder how much traction this story will have going forward. The other quote by Cornyn is frightening as well:

"The Supreme Court has taken on this role as a policymaker rather than an enforcer of political decisions made by elected representatives of the people."

Enforcer? Does he know the difference between the Executive branch and the Judicial branch?

Let's imagine the reaction if we had heard this quote from, say, Sen. Kennedy:

"I don't know if there is a cause-and-effect connection but we have seen some recent episodes of cop killing in this country. Certainly nothing new, but we seem to have run through a spate of cop killing recently that's been on the news and I wonder whether there may be some connection between the perception in some quarters on some occasions where cops are making bad decisions yet are unaccountable to the public, that it builds up and builds up and builds up to the point where some people engage in - engage in violence."

Imagine the response.
posted by pitchblende at 10:04 PM on April 4, 2005


I had a feeling that the right would use the Schiavo case as an attempt to get people pissed off at judges. It's disheartening that I was right.
posted by drezdn at 10:12 PM on April 4, 2005


nkyad: Thanks *grin*
posted by FormlessOne at 11:58 PM on April 4, 2005


Tom Delay and other neocons

Delay is not a neocon, since he has no traceable connection to the University of Chicago, Straussian crap in general, or the National Review nexus. Perhaps theocon would be a better appelation.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 2:00 AM on April 5, 2005


The first thing that occurred to me was how the use of "activist judges" was another example of what linguist George Lakoff calls "framing"... the brilliant right-wing plan to put a network of thinkers and writers to work honing symbolic phrases like "tort reform" and "tax relief." "If you use their language," Lakoff said, "you use their mode of thought; you use the way they think about the world." "Frames trump facts."

To many supporters of the right, I'll bet "activist judges" conjurs up pictures of long-haired, rock throwing anarchists rioting in the streets.

In judicial robes.
posted by Enron Hubbard at 3:41 AM on April 5, 2005


the irony of all of this is that the republicans are acting as though they have forgotten that they have been the minority party for the better part of a century.

They haven't forgotten at all--that's why they're trying to change the rules, laws, and the entire system so that they retain power over all branches--and they discredit those branches that (so far) remain independent from them (I think they feel that they can reliably rile up the populace every election to vote for them based on emotional hot-button issues, keeping Congressional majorities and the presidency). The Judiciary is all that's left now, and Bush's recent decision to resubmit the same judges (rejected in previous years) back up for a Congressional vote is indicative of that.
posted by amberglow at 6:03 AM on April 5, 2005


10 other reasons not to like John Cornyn
posted by amberglow at 6:28 AM on April 5, 2005


At some point the PR firm that is BushCo will try to grab power - real power, during this term, next term, etc. doesn't really matter.
While I abhor DeLay's statement, in general I agree with a little fury directed at the gubbmint.
This of course means the storm they've stirred up might bite them in the ass, but isn't it always the way?

Pardon my tinfoil hat.....but I am in good company

"The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions that I wish it to be always kept alive. It will often be exercised when wrong, but better so than not to be exercised at all."
-- Thomas Jefferson
posted by Smedleyman at 8:00 AM on April 5, 2005


There's a telling absence our right wing friends in this thread defending the indefensible.
posted by dmt at 10:33 AM on April 5, 2005


"Activist judge" seems to be a codeword not for judges that buck the system, but for judges that buck God (?).

Great comment. I hadn't thought of it like that, even though it's obvious.

As Conyers aptly put it, Bush v. Gore was likely the biggest case of "judicial activism" in the history of this country.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:04 AM on April 5, 2005


As Conyers aptly put it, Bush v. Gore was likely the biggest case of "judicial activism" in the history of this country.

I think Marbury v. Madison was probably bigger. Granted, it made a lot more sense, but SCOTUS probably wouldn't have the power they do if they hadn't seized it way back then.
posted by oaf at 11:23 AM on April 5, 2005


I don't Cornyn is refering to the recent incidences of actual courthouse violence----unless he thinks rejecting a malpractice suit and charging a rapist are acts of judicial activism. It seems to me that the violence he is explaining/justifying/endorsing (depending on your reading) are the sea of death threats against Greer and the other judges involved in the Schaivo fiasco. To me, this is worse than just exploiting the recent unrelated violence for political points, because this involves acts that may yet still happen.

To those who would argue that he is just making an objective observation about the causes of violence, I would point out that he specifically says that he shares the sentiment: "It causes a lot of people, including me, great distress to see judges use the authority that they have been given to make raw political or ideological decisions. No one, including those judges, including the judges on the U.S. Supreme Court, should be surprised if one of us stands up and objects." That sure reads like a threat to me.
Here is the entire text of his speech from his own webiste.
posted by boo at 1:44 PM on April 5, 2005


Does Senator Cornyn want more people to go about murdering judges? One doubts it. But it seems that he's happy to try and use such incidents to advance his own agenda. Happy to use them, one notes, even though the recent high-profile cases don't seem to actually have a political agenda. His hope -- along, it seems, though less clearly -- with Tom DeLay's is that judges will begin to operate under a cloud of intimidation. They may not like the idea of buckling under to whatever it is Cornyn wants them to do, but Cornyn is making it clear that he's the judges' friends. He doesn't want to see them killed, or maimed, or assaulted. He's trying to save them. Trying to warn them. Warning them that unless they change their ways someone -- someone who has nothing to do with John Cornyn or the Texas cabal running the country, mind you -- just might decide to do something crazy. But here's Cornyn offering a safe harbor. Confirm all of Bush's nominees, no matter how incompetent, corrupt, or inept they are, no matter how unsound their view of the constitution. And for the others, try to conform your views to those of Bush's new appointees. Do it and you'll be safe. If you don't do it, well, then, certainly John Cornyn wouldn't advocate killing you, he's just pointing out that it will happen. ...--Matt Yglesias
posted by amberglow at 3:44 PM on April 5, 2005


I've been thinking about this for a couple of days, now, and re-read Conyers's statement. And I've reached an unavoidable conclusion: Conyers is basically rejecting mainstream morality in favor of the creed that Might Makes Right, And Anyone Who Doesn't Act Accordingly Deserves To Ge Shot.

Think about it. Here's what Conyers said:
I remember thinking about Judge Rowland Barnes of Georgia, who less than a month ago, was shot to death by an angry litigant in his courtroom, along with two other court employees. I remember thinking that irresponsible words can lead to tragic results. I thought of Judge Joan Lefkow, whose husband and mother are thought to have been murdered by an aggrieved litigant. Since then, I have been trying to think of the most appropriate forum to gently call this to my colleagues' attention, and to remind them that -- no matter how strong our feelings about individual decisions and cases, we need to be cognizant of the influence we may have -- especially on those that may be disturbed, and we always need to know that -- as elected officials -- our words have consequences.
That can be roughly translated as "When you're a judge in a civil case, you should figure out who's the more dangerous litigant, and rule in their favor. Otherwise, you're being irresponsible."
posted by lodurr at 6:27 AM on April 6, 2005


Er. damn. Not proofing well, lately. That should have been "Cornyn's statement..." -- putting "Cornyn" and "Conyers" in such close proximity wasn't a job for uncaffeinated fingers.
posted by lodurr at 6:36 AM on April 6, 2005


"Cast your vote for a strong America. Vote for George C. Wallace on November 5."--Conyers in 1968
posted by amberglow at 4:13 PM on April 7, 2005


oop--Cornyn. (i keep doing that too, lodurr)
posted by amberglow at 4:14 PM on April 7, 2005


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