Friday, April 01, 2005

Arrogant and out of control

Reuters AlertNet - DeLay vows judiciary changes after Schiavo case

Tom DeLay reached the summit of hypocrisy yesterday when he called "the judiciary" (which presumably means the entire judicial branch of the U.S. government) "arrogant" and "out of control" (words which could be used to title his biography).

This is gruff stuff, even coming from a legislator known as "the hammer". Not satisfied with demolishing checks and balances within the Texas and U.S. legislatures, DeLay turned his hammer on the separation of powers by trying to force his will on the courts. Now he wants to hold the courts accountable for having dared to stand in his way as he attempted to trample the Constitution.

I for one am relieved that the judiciary remains (for the time being) "out of control". Should the courts ever fall under the sway of the Executive or Legislative branch, an essential safeguard against tyranny will be eliminated.

Tom DeLay needs to freshen up on his high school civics. He needs to understand that a Republican government majority with a strong streak of religious populism must not trump the separation of powers, or moreover, the rule of law. I personally think the judiciary made the wrong decision in the Schiavo case. But courts don't make decisions based on opinion polls; nor should they. Judges are held indirectly accountable to the democratic process, because they are either appointed by elected officials or elected themselves. However, they are intentionally sheltered from public opinion. I and much of the rest of the public may be correct in differing with the courts in this case. But we will not always be right, especially given the complexities of the law and frequent swings in the public mood.

Republicans not stricken with myopia might envision a future with fiercely independent conservative judges defending rights they hold inviolable against an arrogant and out of control Democratic President and Congress. Let those Republicans come to the fore. And let Mr. DeLay be pressured to resign by a bi-partisan Congressional ethics committee. That would be just lovely.


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