Saturday, April 09, 2005

Republicans=Communists? Part 2

Ok, so yesterday's post was a little bit of snarky sophism.

Today's is not. From Dana Milbank in today's Washington Post:

Conservative leaders meeting in Washington yesterday for a discussion of "Remedies to Judicial Tyranny" decided that Kennedy, a Ronald Reagan appointee, should be impeached, or worse.

Phyllis Schlafly, doyenne of American conservatism, said Kennedy's opinion forbidding capital punishment for juveniles "is a good ground of impeachment." To cheers and applause from those gathered at a downtown Marriott for a conference on "Confronting the Judicial War on Faith," Schlafly said that Kennedy had not met the "good behavior" requirement for office and that "Congress ought to talk about impeachment."

Next, Michael P. Farris, chairman of the Home School Legal Defense Association, said Kennedy "should be the poster boy for impeachment" for citing international norms in his opinions. "If our congressmen and senators do not have the courage to impeach and remove from office Justice Kennedy, they ought to be impeached as well."

Not to be outdone, lawyer-author Edwin Vieira told the gathering that Kennedy should be impeached because his philosophy, evidenced in his opinion striking down an anti-sodomy statute, "upholds Marxist, Leninist, satanic principles drawn from foreign law."

Ominously, Vieira continued by saying his "bottom line" for dealing with the Supreme Court comes from Joseph Stalin. "He had a slogan, and it worked very well for him, whenever he ran into difficulty: 'no man, no problem,' " Vieira said.

The full Stalin quote, for those who don't recognize it, is "Death solves all problems: no man, no problem." Presumably, Vieira had in mind something less extreme than Stalin did and was not actually advocating violence. But then, these are scary times for the judiciary. An anti-judge furor may help confirm President Bush's judicial nominees, but it also has the potential to turn ugly. [Emphasis mine]
This is especially troublesome in light of earlier comments by House Majority Leader Tom Delay and Republican Texas Senator Jouh Cornyn in the aftermath of the Terry Schiavo debacle:
The time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior, but not today. Today we grieve, we pray, and we hope to God this fate never befalls another. - House Republican Leader Tom DeLay.

[W]e seem to have run through a spate of courthouse violence 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 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. - Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas)
And these comments do not occur in a vacuum. Again Dana Milbank has the read on the currently very dangerous climate judges are facing:
A judge in Atlanta and the husband and mother of a judge in Chicago were murdered in recent weeks. After federal courts spurned a request from Congress to revisit the Terri Schiavo case, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) said that "the time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior." Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) mused about how a perception that judges are making political decisions could lead people to "engage in violence."

"The people who have been speaking out on this, like Tom DeLay and Senator Cornyn, need to be backed up," Schlafly said to applause yesterday. One worker at the event wore a sticker declaring "Hooray for DeLay."
Let me also point out that these attacks are also relevant to the government's continuing assaults on journalistic integrity (Media Matters has an exhaustive roundup here).

What these attacks have in common can be seen in light of one of the functions performed by both the judiciary and the media: the protection of individual liberties against government tyranny, and most especially the protection of minorities against the tyranny of the majority.

Without these (admittedly imperfect) protectors, the individual is wholly at the mercy of demagogues and mob rule which are the main potential weaknesses of democracy.

Remember, the worst atrocities of the totalitarian Stalinist Soviet Union, were inevitably carried out by "the will of the people".

As the dingbat wing of the Republican party continues to consolidate power, we must be especially wary of which "people's" will is being carried out.

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