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Old September 14th, 2007, 09:22 AM   #1
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Attacks on Independent Courts Are Attacks on America

Attacks on Independent Courts Are Attacks on America



By Kevin Cathcart



We knew it wouldn't take long before the Iowa judge who struck down the state's ban on marriage for same-sex couples was pegged an "activist judge" by the usual suspects. They say they are defending "traditional" marriage and our democracy itself. But their attacks on the judicial system are about as un-democratic as you can get.



Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts and Republican presidential hopeful led the pack, weighing in just minutes after the ruling was announced. Clearly without enough time to read the 63-page decision, he called it "…another example of an activist court and unelected judges trying to redefine marriage and disregard the will of the people…."



Meanwhile, in Iowa some politicians used the ruling to call for a state constitutional amendment that would restrict marriage to one man and one woman. Senator Paul McKinley claimed most Republicans "believed a constitutional amendment was necessary because all it takes is one person in a black robe to declare a law invalid." Christopher Rants, his colleague in the assembly, reiterated this point, blaming state Democrats for opposing the amendment and "trying to appease special interest groups."



What is going on here? It's old-fashioned antigay sentiment wrapped up in attacks on America's independent courts. The problem is these tactics are as dangerous as the homophobia that inspires them.



When politicians attack judges who are simply doing their job enforcing the Constitution, it is a strike against our government itself. The founders of this country recognized the danger of placing too much power in any one part of the government. To avoid this, they separated authority into three branches, the legislative, executive and judicial. The branches exercise "checks and balances" over one another, to ensure that the law of the land is upheld and that the core principles of liberty and equality are available to everyone.



Within this system, the courts have always been the appropriate place for people to seek help when their constitutional rights have been denied. America's founders agreed that there were certain rights so fundamental that they cannot be taken away, regardless of majority sentiment. Whether the issues invoked are considered controversial or not, even the fervor of 99 percent of the public does not entitle people in power to deprive those in the 1 percent minority of their fundamental constitutional rights.



Under America's system of government, there are some things that we simply do not get to vote on. We have no say, for instance, about whether others get to practice a religion, engage in free speech or have children. Without a powerful reason like a person's inability to consent, "the people" also don't get to vote on whether or whom heterosexuals may marry. Why should they have the right to vote on whether or whom gay people may marry?



The Constitution protects us all against the ardor of those who believe passionately in the rightness of their cause. Regardless of the strength of their belief or how many may join them, they are not entitled to impose their will on others. Nor can they attack a court that rules in favor of fairness with desperate cries of "activist judge."



Politicians' strong words against the courts may win them support from some people at the polls, but this comes at great risk to the system of government upon which this country was founded. That means anyone who attacks independent courts is, in essence, attacking America. We need to stand up and denounce these attacks in Iowa and anywhere else they occur. Our courts, our Constitution and our country depend on it.
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Old September 17th, 2007, 02:19 AM   #2
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Well I guess that Mr Cathcart is a racist. People attacked the Courts for the ruling in Plessy v Fergueson that upheld separate but equal. Good to know where he stands for if he had his way blacks would still be property.



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Old September 17th, 2007, 06:07 AM   #3
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Every time the Supreme Court comes out with a decision that is contrary to popular sentiment, there is a great outcry about "activist judges," "liberal judges," "conservative judges" - not to mention a general call to "reform" the courts, or do away with them altogether. Such criticisms are hardly justified. (Indeed, it would be difficult to find a more staid group than those that make up the federal judiciary.) The federal courts have always been self-limiting under long-standing provisions of abstention and principles of comity. Under Article III, Section 2 of the Constitution, the power of the judicial branch is limited; and Congress has the power to further limit the jurisdiction of the federal courts not expressly conferred, albeit that it would not be in its interest - or the interest of the nation - to do so, for without the power of the judiciary, the acts of the legislative branch would not be enforceable except by unchecked executive power. The power of the judiciary is at the very core of the constitutional system of checks and balances. As Chief Justice Marshall wrote: "The very essence of civil liberty certainly consists in the right of every individual to claim the protection of the laws. . ." Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. 137 (1803). The sword of justice cuts both ways, and in its sway guards over our individual rights and freedom. It is the same today. Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, 542 U.S. 507 (2004).
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Old September 17th, 2007, 06:32 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sgtdmski
Well I guess that Mr Cathcart is a racist. People attacked the Courts for the ruling in Plessy v Fergueson that upheld separate but equal. Good to know where he stands for if he had his way blacks would still be property.



dmk






...and people attacked the court when it ruled in favor of segregation and interracial marriage.



your post was hysterical and meaningless rhetoric - and rather disingenous
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