SCOTUS: 'Nine oligarchs in robes'? [Most commented]
GOP candidates should stop bashing the Supreme Court justices, writes the editorial board in Tuesday's pages. Pointing to the recent onslaught, they write:
Gov. Rick Perry, for instance, favors term limits for federal judges. Rep. Michele Bachmann believes Congress should prevent the federal courts from involving themselves in the dispute over same-sex marriage. Former Sen. Rick Santorum wants to abolish the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals (though its judges would have to be assigned elsewhere). Former Rep. Newt Gingrich believes that Congress should be able to summon Supreme Court justices to explain their opinions. Rep. Ron Paul would strip federal courts of their jurisdiction over cases involving religion, privacy, the right to marry and other matters. Only former Govs. Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman Jr. have refrained from the judge-bashing.
But, the board argues, federal courts are invaluable, and the board pleads with the Republican candidates not to pose restrictions that would "undermine a pillar of constitutional government." They continue:
Life tenure and independence from Congress insulate judges from political pressure and make it easier for them to render appropriate, if unpopular, decisions. Would the justices who ruled against segregated public schools in 1954 have survived a reelection campaign? Or those who ruled in 1989 that the 1st Amendment protected a protester who burned the American flag?
Here's what readers on our discussion board are saying about all the judge-bashing:
This is an attack against our democracy
There's more to this story than politics as usual. Sure, everyone is critical of certain judges, but what we have here is a concerted effort to discredit the entire judiciary, the third leg of our Constitution. In a nutshell, the current crop of GOP candidates, more t-bags than anything else, despise the independence of the judiciary, as much as they despise unions -- any entity that refuses to bow to their control.
Though, if ever there's been a judiciary on all levels of our country favorable to conservative forces, it's the current crop of judges, thanks to Bush who appointed poorly qualified candidates who are willing to be ideologues rather than judges.
Someone like Clarence Thomas is an embarrassment to the Bench; he votes as he's told by the Koch Machine and other reactionary elements.
In the history of the Supreme Court, we've seen countless times when the office shapes the judge, and they become great interpreters of the Constitution, as well as its defenders. While every President appoints judges who will be sympathetic to the sitting President, we have plenty of examples of wise Presidents appointing wise judges.
It's a system that has worked well, whatever flaws it may possess.
The current attack by the GOP on the judiciary may play well in the South, but it's an attack against the very fabric of our democracy, our freedom and the American Way of Life.
Stop the contempt for our Constitution
The federal trial of the 2008 California anti-gay H8te Vote produced incontrovertible evidence that denying LGBT Americans the same ability to protect our spouses through legal marriage that mixed-sex couples take for granted violates the Constitution. Anti-gays proved they can't find any flaws by making personal attacks on the judge himself rather than say just what of their opposition's proof in court was deficient or in what way the judge's decision is NOT firmly based in Constitutional law.
These GOP candidates who are courting their anti-gay base recognize the futility of their current efforts to hurt LGBT Americans and are looking for ways to thwart the inevitable US Supreme Court ruling establishing marriage equality. Obviously, their plans would destroy the independence of the judiciary, even if these attacks are targeted specifically to hurting LGBT Americans.
It's really sad anti-gays, and their preferred GOP presidential candidates, have such obvious contempt for our Constitution.
--Carrot Cake Man
We need reliable judges
I hate to use a liberal buzzword, but the rhetoric of these candidates is indeed disingenuous. While they are correct in noting that judges often take it upon themselves to create rights that do not exist and have no basis in fact or law, such as marriage between two people of the same sex and Constitutional protections for foreign enemies outside the U.S., the solution lies in electing a president and senators that will nominate and approve judges and justices that will uphold the Constitution, and not rewrite it.
Aren't liberals also to blame?
Democrats and liberals DO talk about removing judges from the bench. For years, they have complained about Thomas, Scalia, Alito and Roberts. Democrats in Congress have blocked judge appointments based on politics. The liberals do the same thing as the conservatives, so stop the biased editorials.
Why we need an independent judiciary
Democrats routinely attack judges they believe and Republicans and Republicans routinely attack judges they believe are Democrats. Simply put, both parties play this game. The idea that we have an independent judiciary is simply wishful thinking. Simply put, Republicans nominate people who they believe will take certain positions on issues and the Democrats nominate people who they believe will take certain positions. Simply put, both parties do not want independent judges but they want judges who they know how they vote before they are confirmed.
*For clarity purposes, spelling errors in the above comments have been corrected.
--Alexandra Le Tellier
Photo: The U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington. The Supreme Court opened a new term on Oct. 3; it runs until the end of June. Credit: Karen Bleier / AFP/Getty Images