Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Nuclear Madness

The Moose hopes for nuclear disarmament.

After laboring over long-distance diagnosis of the Schiavo case, the good Doctor Frist will now turn his attention to nuclear war. Since the Republican Party is busy casting all their principles to the wind, the GOP will now attempt to transform the Senate into the House-lite by eliminating the filibuster on judicial nominees.

The Moose wonders why the elephant is in such a state about confirming conservative judges after the Schiavo episode. After all, wasn't it conservative judges that ruled against another review of the case defying the wishes of the Republican Congress? It seems that the Delay crowd has a fundamental beef with Federalist 78 and Marbury v. Madison.

Meanwhile, two Congressional representatives of the Lone Star State are locked in hot competition for the first GOP H. Rap Brown Award for inciting judicial violence. The first entry came from House Majority Leader DeLay who, in the aftermath of the Schiavo episode, threatened, "The time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior."

Senator John Cornyn then jumped into the competition with this remark on the Senate floor, "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. . . . And I wonder whether there may be 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. Certainly without any justification, but a concern that I have."

The Moose understands that the winner of the H. Rap Brown Award will be decided by the new Republican moral leader, Randall Terry.

While Frist is wrong to threaten nuclear war, Democrats should also be wary over a fight about process. Joe Klein writes in Time Magazine,

"This month, Democrats may use procedural tricks to stop all Senate business and block a Republican effort to eliminate minority filibuster rights and jam through seven federal judges proposed by the President. The fight may be winnable, but it is a culture of law cul-de-sac. The Democrats will be shutting down the Senate over a matter of process rather than substance, a pinhead of principle most civilians will find difficult to understand. The Armageddon of confirmation battles—over the next Supreme Court Justice—will probably follow soon after, and it may cement a public impression of the Democrats as a party obsessed with the legal processes that preserve the status quo on issues such as abortion, gay rights and extreme secularism—and little else. The political damage may be considerable."

Klein also touches upon a deeper problem for the Democrats - over reliance on the judiciary to achieve their political ends. Progressive political muscles have atrophied because of dependence on the courts. And conservatives have been able to falsely pose as populists taking on an elite judiciary.

Klein writes,

"Oddly, a solution to the Dems' dilemma may be on offer from liberal academia. "The hot new idea in liberal law journals is called popular constitutionalism," says Paul Gewirtz of Yale Law School. "It argues that legislatures and voters should have more control over government, and the judiciary should take a more subsidiary position." In other words, issues like abortion should be put to a vote."

While many Democrats would blanch over the suggestion of a plebiscite over abortion, they would not be alone. An abortion referendum would result in a civil war in the Republican Party. Unless the Supreme Court overturns Roe V. Wade, that is not going to happen. However, the point is that progressives must reinvigorate their populist impulse.

Democrats must renew their democratic spirit.
-- Posted at 8:34 AM | Link to this post | Email this post