United States Supreme Court Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor refuses to go gently into the night. Late last week, while her political friends were rallying around her heir apparent, she said something as important as anything she had said while sitting on the High Court for nearly a quarter of a century. She loudly and passionately called out the Republican leadership in Congress for its cynical, sinister, and relentless assault upon the independence of the federal judiciary.
In some of the frankest tones you will ever hear from a sitting Justice, O’Connor, the Reagan appointee, gray-haired grandmother, and symbol of middle-American courtliness, blasted the very people on Capitol Hill who are cheering the loudest these days for John G. Roberts, Jr., the man who will almost certainly take over her consistently conservative vote from the bench on the first Monday in October. Speaking in Spokane, Wash., to a group of lawyers and judges, O’Connor warned that “the present climate is such that I worry about the future of the federal judiciary … In our country today, we’re seeing efforts to prevent an independent judiciary.”
For those of you who forgot what all this is about:
Tom DeLay: Schiavo’s death was the result of an arrogant, out of control, unaccountable judiciary
John Cornyn wondered if the recent violence against judges was caused by”the perception in some quarters, on some occasions, where judges are making political decisions yet are unaccountable to the public.”
The judge in the Schiavo case was a conservative Republican. He heard the case for 6 years and made numerous rulings which allowed Mike Schiavo to be decide when to disconnect life support. This was a judge the right shold have loved. However, because he ruled against the religious right’s interests and agenda, he was suddenly an activist judge.
What the right forgets is the courts are supposed to be independent. That is why Federal judges are given lifetime appointments, barring bad behavior and Congress cannot cut their salaries. The Federal Judiciary is supposed to have only the law as their guide, not party. However, the Republicans clearly want the judiciary to be nothing more than a rubber stamp – so long as that stamp furthers the extreme Republican agenda.