April 05, 2005
"THERE'S BEEN SO MUCH DISREGARD FOR CONSTITUTIONAL PRINCIPLES IN CONGRESS, that I wonder if it might not lead some people to want to lynch Senators in the majority?"
An irresponsible statement. So how come Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) said pretty much the same thing about violence against judges?
You can see video of his statement here, and Joe Gandelman has a roundup. I agree with Ann Althouse:
It is really a shame how little people understand of the reasons judges decide cases the way they do. DeLay and Cornyn, like many others, signal to the public to think that the judges are simply out of control and the cases are inexplicable as the serious work of deeply thoughtful persons steeped in the legal tradition. It wouldn't be wise just to assume that judges are unerring oracles of law, but to leap to the opposite conclusion and decide they are frauds is even more foolish. And for a public figure even to hint at violence as a solution is completely unacceptable.
If you need proof that some Republicans are just as dumb as some Democrats, this is it. Now if there are further attacks on judges, Cornyn -- and the Republicans -- will be blamed. What's more, to some degree they'll deserve it.
To quote Ari Fleischer's underappreciated remarks, people need to be careful what they say. The notion -- popular in some circles on the right -- that dishonest or result-oriented behavior by some judges justifies an all-out war against the judiciary, or even the idea of an independent judiciary, is un-conservative, and for that matter un-American.
Plus, when you get that hysterical, you sound like Paul Krugman.
UPDATE: Jonah Goldberg:
I haven't seen the comments in their full context yet, but assuming Josh Marshall and Glenn Reynolds are being fair (and I have no reason to suspect they're not), it seems to me the outrage is well-deserved. This is almost exactly the same logic the left used to justify or explain away inner city riots. It seems to me there's no substantial difference. The judge in Atlanta was not murdered because he had an expansive view of the penumbra to the Bill of Rights. Neither was the murder of that judge's family in Chicago attributable to judicial activism. What other violence is Cornyn referring to? I leave some room for the possibility that Cornyn was being stupid rather than sinister. But this strikes me as an indefensible statement.
I'm willing to hold open the "stupid" possibility too -- though then he's a (really) stupid member of the Judiciary Committee, which is troubling enough -- and I suppose that there could be context that I haven't seen. But Cornyn's remarks do seem to be indefensible to me.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Jon Henke thinks we're being way too hard on Cornyn. His Daschle analogy seems in apposite to me, though.
So does Beldar, who says that we've all been suckered and that Cornyn's speech, taken as a whole, gives a very different impression. Here's a link to the speech, which is sufficiently rambling and unfocused that Beldar may have a point. Perhaps Cornyn is just asinine. But why drag in the violence-against-judges thing -- when, as Jonah points out, there's no reason to associate any of these events with the kind of stuff that Cornyn is complaining about -- at all?
Ari Fleischer's advice was good advice, and it's especially good advice at a time when usually-respectable people have been urging a President and a Governor to call out the troops in defiance of court orders. If Cornyn's being misrepresented here, perhaps he should come out and explain just what he did mean. . . .
MORE: Jonah Goldberg is unconvinced by these defenses of Cornyn.