Tuesday, April 05, 2005


The latest of the foot-in-the-mouth disease sufferers is Senator John Cornyn, a Republican from Texas. He doesn't like activist judges which means that he doesn't like lefty activist judges or judges who are not in fact activist but who decide against the wingnuts because that happens to be the law. Mr. Cornyn, himself a lawyer, is very angry at the U.S. judiciary. In a recent speech he said this:

Federal judges, who have lifetime appointments, should be held in check, he argued.

"It causes a lot of people, including me, great distress to see judges use the authority they have been given to make raw political or ideological decisions," he said. "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."

And he also said this:

Cornyn continued: "I don't know if there is a cause-and-effect connection, but we have seen some recent episodes of courthouse violence in this country. . . . 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. Certainly without any justification, but a concern that I have."

There is a certain symmetry between the two statements, but one shouldn't draw too many conclusions from it. As Yglesias has pointed out, Cornyn wasn't threatening the judges, nope. He was just kindly warning them that if a certain behavior continues (like not finding for the wingnuts in all cases) then a certain consequence, sadly, might ensue (like getting killed by an outraged wingnut). Sad, yes, and Cornyn, himself, is most upset about this possibility, but what can you do? Add some mental shrugging of shoulders and tut-tutting here on Cornyn's behalf.

The best known recent cases of judges getting killed had nothing to do with political agendas, of course, but it behooves the right-wing to pretend that they did. The campaign for Taming All Activist Judges would benefit from a frightened judiciary, wouldn't it? The judges have grown far too big for their breeches, we all know that. For one thing, they are not adequately wingnutty.

Do you know what would be most interesting? It would be to study Cornyn's own legal decisions to see if he ever engaged in political activism. Not because if he had, one could then laugh at his inconsistencies, of course not, but simply to make sure that he has adequate protection in case someone else, someone totally unrelated, gets angry at him.