Saturday, March 18, 2006

Sandra Day O’Conner Speaks Out Against the Dangers of Undermining the Judiciary

In a little covered speech last week former Supreme Court Associate Justice Sandra Day O'Conner opened up on the Republican Right, decrying their proclivity of late for calling the Federal courts on the carpet for doing their constitutional duty. Warning against the dangers of undermining the judicial branch, O'Conner stated that they (right wing Republicans)
challenge the independence of judges and the freedoms of all Americans.

I have long wondered what the Justices of the Supreme Court thought of the ill-informed, ignorant, and salacious attacks perpetrated by the agents of the fundamentalists’ religious right in Congress upon the federal judiciary, the third branch of government. Now I know the thoughts and feeling of at least one of the (former) members, and I share them. It's no secret that the Republican Right has little respect for the independent judiciary and would just assume see it abolished to the determent of all. Bush in his latest State of The Union address deliberately and irresponsibly snubbed the members of the Supreme Court by welcoming the members of the elected branches of government to the occasion! He didn’t even acknowledge the presence of the Supreme Court as the third branch of our federal government, and in so doing give it the respect and dignity the institution deserves.

Of course Bush failed to mention that he is the only freely elected member of the Executive Branch of government, since we do not vote for the Vice President on his or her own ticket. And of course he failed to point out that out of some 4 million plus federal workers, only 435 are directly elected by the populace and that they have a dismal record of late in representing the American people.

The Republican Right's unrelenting attack on the federal judiciary show a fundamental lack of respect and a growing distain for our system of constitutional government, and for the fundamental rights of the American people. O'Conner a moderate Republican pointed this out when she stated,
[T]he nation’s founders wrote repeatedly that without an independent judiciary to protect individual rights from the other branches of government those rights and privileges would amount to nothing. But, as the founding fathers knew statutes and constitutions don’t protect judicial independence, people do.

The court system in this country at all levels, but especially at the federal level, are seen by most (thinking) Americans as the last bulwark against the tyranny of the increasingly Republican Executive and Legislative branches of government, who if left to their own whims, would see the Bill of Rights shredded, and the Constitution (state and federal) replaced by the Holy Bible as the foundation of American governance. Perhaps I exaggerate the case, but perception is increasingly becoming reality within the hall of Congress (and increasingly state legislators) as (Republican) elected representatives in both houses openly attack the courts for doing their jobs.

Of this O'Conner stated:
[C]ourts do have the power to make presidents or the Congress or governors, really, really angry. “But, if we don’t make them mad some of the time we probably aren’t doing our jobs as judges, and our effectiveness, is premised on the notion that we won’t be subject to retaliation for our judicial acts.

I have often been drawn the ire of my readers by even hinting that there might be some similarities between fascists regimes of the past and the current Bush Administration (and it’s Republican Right champions) with its love for secrecy, open distain for the rule of law, rapid militarism, and thinly veiled adoption of religious dogma into the pages of foreign policy. But as Ms. O'Conner pointed out,
[I]t takes a lot of degeneration before a country falls into dictatorship, she said, but we should avoid these ends by avoiding these beginnings.

Like it or no, my fellow Americans the Bush Administration and it Republican Right backers are those beginnings, at least in this writers mind…

1 comment: said...

Do you know how to contact Sandra Day O Connor? If so, please contact me.