Friday, November 5, 2010

Courting Disaster

Of all the things that happened on election day, this is by far the most disturbing to me, for it has implications deep and broad for the future of constitutional democracy. It's the real danger of teabagger mentality, their abject failure to understand (or to give a sh*t about) the law:

DES MOINES — An unprecedented vote to remove three Iowa Supreme Court justices who were part of the unanimous decision that legalized same-sex marriage in the state was celebrated by conservatives as a popular rebuke of judicial overreach, even as it alarmed proponents of an independent judiciary.

The outcome of the election was heralded both as a statewide repudiation of same-sex marriage and as a national demonstration that conservatives who have long complained about “legislators in robes” are able to effectively target and remove judges who issue unpopular decisions.

Leaders of the recall campaign said the results should be a warning to judges elsewhere. “I think it will send a message across the country that the power resides with the people,” said Bob Vander Plaats, an unsuccessful Republican candidate for governor who led the campaign. “It’s we the people, not we the courts.”

It literally gives me a chill, makes me feel ill. How far from understanding our Constitution is such a statement. How threatening to the deepest of our roots in law. It's me, the son of a supreme court judge speaking here, the son of a chief judge of a court of appeals; but you don't have to be born into a family of law to have a third-grade understanding of how it works.

Gay marriage is not the issue (although it is.) The point is that we have laws, the responibility of seeing to the following of which falls to the courts. If you accept the idea of America, then you must accept the idea that when a state passes a law that's contrary to its own or to the nation's constitution, then judges must strike it down. It is the single most important barrier between ourselves and mob rule. Mob rule should frighten us all. Even the mobs.

There are ways to legalize the discrimination against an entire class of fellow humans, and I don't doubt that teabaggers and everyone else who reveres the RWS™ and believes Fox "news" would love to invoke them. If we want to be a country that dehumanizes gays and denies them basic civil rights; if we want to become a Christian nation and deploy our equivalent version of Sharia law upon the land (which I'm also certain the right wingers would love to do), we can do it. All it requires is the established process of constitutional amendment. (Which, by design, isn't as easy as brewing tea.) You want it, go for it. And if you succeed, judges will be expected to defend it.

That obscene statement at the end of the quoted paragraphs above is as unAmerican as it gets. You want to see actual, not made-up, fascism? That's it. You want to see how misguided and uninformed teabaggers are? Re-read that sentence, over and over. It's as far from our democracy as any idea can be. If you like the idea of judges ignoring the law and allowing "the people" to run unshod and smelly-footed over it; if you like the idea of judges doing the bidding of the people in charge no matter what laws say, then you'd like living in Iran.

But it's a hard concept. The idea that just because a majority of people choose to do something it isn't automatically legal is one that sits poorly with the right wing. Strangely, since it's they that claim to have a monopoly on patriotic love. Tri-corners don't seem to transmit wisdom to the head on which they sit. Nowadays.

It's legal in many states to vote judges out of office; one instance might be happening in my state (although here, it's about his off-court behavior.) But in the case of Iowa, I hope that whoever they elect in their place have the guts and wisdom to follow the law, the willingness to be unelected for doing so. (It was a unanimous decision, and two of the ousted judges were appointed by a conservative Republican governor.) Of all people to understand that, you'd think it'd be conservatives. But that's not who's calling the shots any more. It's the religiously blind, the brainwashed, the Foxobeckified, the prejudiced, the lazy thinkers who don't do hard, who stamp their feet and demand their candy. For free.

That they're putting the inmates back in charge of the asylum known as Congress is old news, big deal. Happens all the time. Congress has always been full of idiots. Hard to tell them apart, sometimes.

It's why we have judges.


Mike Haubrich, FCD said...

I really don't understand why so many states use the ballots to choose or remove judges. I think that the independent judiciary should function to remove judges for malfeasance and not for judicial decisions.

In this election, Minnesota had a theocratic candidate for the supreme court. Why did the framers of our state constitution think it wise to elect judges? Talk about the potential for serious corruption through campaign donations!

We'll see what happens in Iowa.

Anonymous said...

Sid! Your Clarence Thomas's Bastard Son too??? and Do you here me braggin bout how my Dad killed more North Vietnamese than the Bubonic Plague??? Umm bad example...
and I thought it was the T-worders who were Nuts for wanting Senators chosen by corupt state legislators...anyways
Y'all still have almost 2 months to
1:Close Gitmo
2:Impeach Clarence Thomas/Whatever his first name Roberts(Chief Judge)/Alito/Scaria
3:Repeal DOMA(Which would be a real slap at the President who signed it, Bush, I mean..ummm (whispering) C-L-I-N-T-O-N
4:and don't just let the Bush Tax Cuts expire, jack em up to the Jimmuh Carter Rates, I mean whens the next time your gonna have 250+ Democrats in the House??
and even if y'all win some back in 0-12' why wait???
and seriously, listen to yourself, would you really have wanted Steve Breyer up for a popular vote???

Frank "I voted for Al Sharpton in 04*" Drackman

* I did, really. Y'see Bush had the R side sewn up, and I couldnt vote for Kerry or that nutty internist, and I love Al's accent, I can even do a pretty good Bronx brogue...

Sid Schwab said...

Get some non-gassifed sleep, Frankie.

Anonymous said...

Ahhhh another Surgeon who can't see past the LOUPES on his pointy Yankee Nose(Dammit I hate admitting a Surgeon's right..but I checked, dammit triple and quadruple checked and your right..., its "LOUPES" and not "loops" :(next you'll be telling me "cc" doesn't stand for "Cups of Coffee"...)
General Anesthesia's not "Sleep", like when you doze off after watching PMS-NBC passt 7pm, its really more like a Coma, ysee, the Volatile Anesthetic Molecules sneak into the Lipid Bilayer Cell Membrane just like Moe-hammed Atta did into American Society(I think they called it the "Luminiferous Ether" when you trained with Socrates), which causes Ion Chanels to close, hence, putting you to sleep.
See, you probably fell asleep halfway during that explanation.
Of course, I like the "Little Elves in the Vaporizer" theory myself...
and nobody knows how Nitrous Works, except its good for an extra 75 horsepowers.
and I didn't type that at 2:15am, it was 5:15am, cause I was too excited to sleep, cause I'm pickin up my NEW(Used) Car, an 08' ZO6 Vette, with the loud exhaust, and 6 speed, the better to apply 505 Horsies to the Pavement...
and it gets 26 mpg EPA/HWY
Yeah, right, if you lug it in 6th at 55mph...
and I've still got my 95' Camaro, umm its not goin anywhere with a busted connecting Rod...
Interested in Upgrading your Acura???


Kellie said...

Sid, did you read this?

"It looks like voters in Oklahoma just ratified the law of unintended consequences.

Lawmakers in the Sooner State put a constitutional amendment banning the application of Islamic law by Oklahoma courts on the ballot for Tuesday's election.

But the amendment, which also banned the use of international law in judicial decision-making, might force Oklahoma judges to ignore all laws that were conceived on foreign soil, including the 10 Commandments.

"I would like to see Oklahoma politicians explain if this means that the courts can no longer consider the Ten Commandments. Isn't that a precept of another culture and another nation?" said a University of Oklahoma law professor. "The result of this is that judges aren't going to know when and how they can look at sources of American law that were international law in origin. Many of us who understand the law are scratching our heads this morning, laughing so we don't cry."

The measure was overwhelmingly approved, despite months of resistance from legal experts who argued that it blatantly violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment and, oh yeah, sharia law has never once been applied by an Oklahoma judge.

The amendment's principal author argued that the state needed to make a "pre-emptive strike" against the dangers of Islamic theocracy.

I'll bet George Bush could've told him pre-emptive strikes don't always have the results you had hoped for.
Oh, and for those who don't know about the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, it's the one Christine O'Donnell had so much trouble with."

Sid Schwab said...

I'd heard of the Sharia thing, Kellie, but not the 10 Commandment implications. Beautiful.

But another example of the stupidity of voters, the ease with which they've been manipulated by fear. Banning Sharia law. We have become a joke on ourselves.

BTW, Christine O'Witch said she won that debate.

Popular posts