Monday, April 11, 2005


This article by the egregious Dana Milbank, about a meeting of a small group of prominent conservatives in Washington, seems to have stirred up a hornet's nest in some circles -- which is, of course, what it was meant to do. Even Arthur Silber -- who is a pretty level-headed guy most of the time -- seems to have got his knickers in a knot over it. Milbank is very good at subtly slanting the news and hinting at things without actually saying them and this is a prime example. He reports a whole series of statements that are mostly not unreasonable by themselves and manages to weave them into a rather alarming tapestry. He also presents the report as if he were present and taking notes at the meeting but nowhere actually says that he was so the accuracy of what he does say is for a start a matter of some conjecture. But so far everybody seems (in my view unwisely) to be taking his report as gospel. One can only imagine what he has left out.

What transpired was apparently a general discussion about what should be done about America's current problem of lawless Supreme Court judges -- and different individuals suggested different solutions -- broadly falling into restrictions on what the judges can do or finding ways to remove the irresponsible judges from office. What seems to have induced near-ecstasy in some Leftist bloggers is that one of those present quoted Stalin to the effect that removing the man removes the problem -- implying that Stalin's METHOD of removing the man (execution) was being advocated. The fact that the person who quoted Stalin is a constitutional lawyer who wrote "How to Dethrone the Imperial Judiciary" LEGALLY was mentioned by Milbank but seems to have been glided over by everyone else.

The Left seem determined to take what was obviously a brainstorming session among a small group of people as proof of some heinous plot but that is to be expected, I guess.

The basic submission of those present at the meeting -- that recent constitutional decisions which turn to foreign opinions rather than to the text of the constitution are grossly unsatisfactory -- is a submission in which I myself would heartily concur. I might perhaps go along with the argument that the constitution should be treated as a "living document" but that is NOT what the Supreme Court is doing. They are in fact treating it as a blank slate -- finding in it all sorts of things (such as abortion rights) that are not remotely there. There is only one democratic way for the constitution to change with the times and that is via amendments voted for by the people.

(An earlier version of this post appeared on Blogger News)



(From an interview with Pat Robertson)

GINGRICH: I think we are a covenant society, and I think part of the message has to be to our elected officials that we expect Congress and the President to stand up to judges who don't understand America. And in the case of the two appeals court judges, of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, who said they were going to outlaw saying `one nation under God' in the Pledge -- my position would be Thomas Jefferson's, which would be to abolish their two jobs. Let them go back into the private sector, because clearly those two judges do not understand America and should not be sitting on the federal bench.

ROBERTSON: Is it possible for Congress to selectively take out a couple of judges? You'd have to abolish the whole Ninth Circuit.

GINGRICH: No, in 1802, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, who knew a fair amount about the Constitution, passed a law abolishing 18 out of the 35 federal circuit court judges. That is over half the federal circuit court judges. They were given unemployment slips, and told to go find work. So clearly there is a precedent. The Congress can say this particular office is now closed. You are not going to have hearings. You might have to pay their pension under a constitutional provision that's a lifetime appointment. But you don't have to let them have clerks, you don't have to let them have an office, you don't have to let them serve in court any more.


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