GOP justifies attacks on judges?

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, ups the judge-hating rhetoric for the GOP

Published April 5, 2005 2:04PM (EDT)

Tipping a hand at just how radical Republicans are willing to get on the pending issue of judicial confirmations, a Republican senator took to the floor of the U.S. Senate yesterday to suggest recent attacks against U.S. judges, and courthouse violence in general, stems from the feeling of lack of accountability among frustrated citizens. The comments, made by Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, a former Texas Supreme Court justice and member of the Judiciary Committee, came dangerously close to excusing physical attacks on the judiciary.

Cornyn's rhetoric comes on the heels of the none-too-subtle threat made by House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, in wake of the Terri Schiavo case, in which judge after judge ruled with Michael Schiavo that his wife Terri had a right to die. DeLay issued this warning: "The time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior."

Late yesterday, Cornyn, speaking out against so-called activist judges, made this comment on the floor of the Senate: "It causes a lot of people, including me, great distress to see judges use the authority that they have been given to make raw political or ideological decisions. And no one, including those judges, including the judges on the United States Supreme Court, should be surprised if one of us stands up and objects. I believe this increasing politicalization of the judicial decision-making process at the highest levels of our judiciary have bred a lack of respect for some of the people that wear the robe. And that is a national tragedy."

Having established the "lack of respect" for judges, he 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. Certainly nothing new, but we seem to have run through a spate of courthouse violence recently that's been on the news and I wonder whether there maybe 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."

Meanwhile, the Republicans' rhetorical assault on judges continues this weekend at a right-wing Washington, D.C., seminar, entitled "Confronting The Judicial War On Faith Conference." [Emphasis added.] The weekend judge-bashing fest will feature speeches from DeLay as well as Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan.

By Eric Boehlert

Eric Boehlert, a former senior writer for Salon, is the author of "Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over for Bush."

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