Judicial Constraint: The Far Right Pushes For Rubber-Stamp Courts
It is my sad duty today to give yet another basic civics lesson to the far right.
Here it goes: There are three branches of government. They are co-equal. Each performs a check on the other. Each balances out the other.
Congress can pass a law. The president can sign it or veto it. If the president vetoes it, Congress can override that veto with a two-thirds vote. A court can strike the law down, if it is unconstitutional. If a court does that, Congress can go back to the drawing board and craft a new law that conforms to constitutional measure. Or they can try to pass a constitutional amendment to send to the states. (Remember this from seventh grade?)
Newt Gingrich is having a bit of trouble with this concept lately. He argues that judges who dare do things like uphold the separation of church and state or issue “radical” rulings should be apprehended by U.S. marshals, hauled before Congress, denied staff and support and driven from office.
On more than one occasion, Gingrich has singled out for attack U.S. District Judge Fred Biery, who in May handed down a preliminary ruling in a Texas school prayer case sponsored by Americans United. Biery’s decision displeased Gingrich, and he has called for the judge’s removal from office.
Over the years, I’ve heard many Religious Right figures make similar arguments. Upset over court rulings that uphold the separation of church and state, these people have sought some way to neuter the legal branch of government. They would essentially turn our courts into a rubber-stamp body for Congress.