.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

 

NY Times: In DeLay's Home District, Rumblings of Discontent Surface

NY Times

By RALPH BLUMENTHAL Published: April 17, 2005

SUGAR LAND, Tex., April 16 - Patricia Baig, a substitute teacher with a comfortable inheritance, paid $2,776 this week to call for Representative Tom DeLay's resignation.

Ms. Baig, 57 - who identifies herself as a fellow Republican of Mr. DeLay, the House majority leader, and is one of his constituents - took out a full-page advertisement on Wednesday in the 62,000 copies of the weekly free Fort Bend Southwest Sun. It urged demonstrators "who want ethical reform" to rally against Mr. DeLay's scheduled keynote speech Saturday night to the National Rifle Association in downtown Houston, "to protest the actions of Representative DeLay and ask for his resignation," while adding her gun-owner's caveat: "This is NOT a protest of the N.R.A.!" Full story.

 

Democracy Now & Debt Slavery criticize bankruptcy bill

Democrats Blog

DH: This bill was for the banking industry. There was propaganda that it helps consumers, but that was hogwash.

 

TPM: John Edwards says he was wrong to support bankruptcy reform

Talking Points Memo

Guest Blogger: John Edwards

April 14 -- This morning Elizabeth Warren and her students invited me to say a few words about the bankruptcy reform bill. I'm grateful for the opportunity.

I'm now spending a lot of my time tackling the challenges of poverty, but I learned a lot about bankruptcy on the campaign trail last year. I saw how many good families end up broke and poor, and how they need the safety net of a fair bankruptcy law if they're going to get back on their feet.

Like a lot of Democrats, I voted for a bankruptcy reform bill before. I can't say it more simply than this: I was wrong.

The bill is supposed to crack down on irresponsible borrowers. That's the right thing to do. The problem is that this bill imposes big burdens on families who did everything right but went broke just because they lost a job or lost their health insurance. And, even more than the legislation I supported, this bill doesn't crack down on the real abusers. Full story.

 

Slate's today's papers: Amcrack - A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers

Slate

Amcrack By Daniel Politi
Posted Saturday, April 16, 2005, at 3:42 AM PT

The Los Angeles Times leads with the steepest one-day decline in stock prices in more than two years. Friday marked the third straight day of more than 100-point drops in the stock market, the first time that has happened since January 2003. It all led to the lowest prices of the year. Throughout the week, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 3.6 percent of its value. The New York Times and the Washington Post front the stock market news but lead with Amtrak canceling its Acela Express services at least until Wednesday. A government inspector found cracks in the brakes of a train after a speed experiment. Subsequent checks found similar problems in the rest of the 20 high-speed trains that connect New York, Boston, and Washington, D.C. It could take months to fully restore the trains, which will likely affect Amtrak's revenue as the high-priced service transports approximately 10,000 passengers every weekday. Both papers point out this problem comes at the heels of President Bush's proposal to cut all subsidies to Amtrak in order to force a restructuring of the company that has lost more than $500 million each year for the past 10 years. Congressional support for Amtrak remains strong so the proposal is not likely to get very far, but this latest setback adds to the numerous problems currently faced by the company. Full story.

 

Knight Ridder-Who Cares About Terrorism? -posted by Sean Sirrine

Knight Ridder reported on Friday that the State Department is no longer going to publish their report on international terrorism:


The State Department decided to stop publishing an annual report on
international terrorism after the government's top terrorism center concluded
that there were more terrorist attacks in 2004 than in any year since 1985, the
first year the publication covered.

"Instead of dealing with the facts and dealing with them in an intelligent
fashion, they try to hide their facts from the American public," charged Larry
C. Johnson, a former CIA analyst and State Department terrorism expert who first
disclosed the decision to eliminate the report in The Counterterrorism Blog, an
online journal.

But the U.S. intelligence officials said Rice's office decided to eliminate
"Patterns of Global Terrorism" when the counterterrorism center declined to use
alternative methodology that would have reported fewer significant attacks.

The officials said they interpreted Rice's action as an attempt to
avoid releasing statistics that would contradict the administration's claims
that it's winning the war against terrorism.


I'm not sure if the reason their pulling this report is partisan, but it sure isn't good for our country. We need more transparency, not less. It makes me think of the quote from Orwell's 1984:

"Those that control the past, control the future."

 

Slate: Judge-bashing is hardly new

Slate

By Rodger Citron (excerpt)

History shows that the recent demagoguery over judges is neither particularly shocking nor rare. Indeed at least two prior attacks on the courts—one during the New Deal, the other in the late 1950s—suggest that an even more concerted political attack on the courts would, paradoxically, strengthen judicial independence and judicial review.

President Franklin Roosevelt's clash with the Supreme Court over the New Deal started when the court began to invalidate his social welfare legislation in 1935. The decisions were made by a closely divided court and prompted a political firestorm, including personal attacks upon the court far more aggressive than we have seen in recent days: Six justices were hanged in effigy in Ames, Iowa, after the court's decision in Butler.

Roosevelt did not criticize the court during his campaign for re-election in 1936, and he easily defeated Alfred Landon. Immediately after that election, however, Roosevelt began to attack, first in his State of the Union Address and then in February 1937, when he unveiled his court-packing plan, which would have allowed him to add up to six justices to the Supreme Court, one for any justice over the age of 70 who did not retire.

The court-packing proposal failed for many reasons: first, because the court in 1937 made its "switch in time" and began to uphold New Deal legislation; then, Justice Willis Van Devanter resigned, opening a seat for a Roosevelt appointee; and—somewhat surprisingly—because many members of the Democratic Congress did not support it.

The New Deal enjoyed popular support, and the only obstacle to its implementation was the Supreme Court. Yet Roosevelt was unable to persuade the public or his party to support his effort to refashion the court because his plan was widely viewed as an effort to arrogate power. And, as New York University Law Prof. Barry Friedman has explained, the emergence of fascist dictatorships abroad prompted heightened public concern for judicial independence. Critics argued that the court-packing plan would give Roosevelt too much control over the Supreme Court; Sen. William King, for example, described the court as the nation's "Ark of the Covenant" and warned that "impair[ing] the power and authority of the Supreme Court … [would] arouse grave apprehensions in the minds of all thoughtful Americans." Such fears were further amplified by concern that Roosevelt's plan would undermine the court's institutional role of protecting individual liberty and constitutional rights.

The Bush administration's campaign for democracy abroad includes support for an independent judiciary; it cannot afford the appearance of hypocrisy that would result from a domestic campaign against the federal courts.

The second instance of organized public court bashing occurred as part of the public outcry over the high court's ruling in Brown v. Board of Education in 1954. In Brown, the Warren Court required desegregation of public schools in the South, over the objection of the majority of white citizens and the politicians they elected. The response to Brown by citizens opposed to the decision was especially virulent. Justice Hugo Black, for example, received hate mail, was practically exiled from the State of Alabama, and—as biographer Roger Newman has written—often wore a chest protector provided by the Secret Service when he visited Birmingham.

Brown also inspired political resistance, including legislative efforts to curb the court. Such efforts failed, however, because President Dwight Eisenhower endorsed the decision and took steps to enforce it when challenged. The court may have been most vulnerable after the 1957 term, when it decided a number of domestic-security cases against the government and in favor of Communists and Communist sympathizers. Supporters of segregation in Congress teamed up with congressmen angry over the civil liberties decisions in an effort to strip the court of jurisdiction in cases raising security-related questions. But Eisenhower opposed the legislation, albeit tepidly, and ultimately it failed due to the opposition of Senate Majority Leader Lyndon Johnson. (With his eye on the presidency, Johnson was seeking to distinguish himself from his fellow Southerners.)

Today, proposing jurisdiction-stripping legislation is an especially popular sport for court-bashers. The lesson to be learned from the attacks upon the Warren Court during the Eisenhower era, however, is that unless President Bush is willing to endorse such efforts, they almost certainly will languish and then expire; they are nothing more than flares sent up to rally the right-wing base.

Last year, as Duke Law School Prof. Erwin Chemerinsky notes, there were two bills in the House of Representatives that would have stripped the federal courts, including the Supreme Court, of the authority to hear constitutional challenges to the federal Defense of Marriage Act or to the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance. Those two bills passed the House of Representatives but went no further. Pending in the current Congress is another bill that would prevent any federal court, including the Supreme Court, from hearing cases involving the acknowledgment of God by state officials; under the bill, the exercise of jurisdiction in such a case would be an impeachable offense.

This bill, too, almost certainly will not become law. Why? Because for President Bush the cost of endorsing such measures is too high. After Rep. DeLay's remarks last week, the president's comments were clearly an effort to distance himself publicly from the vitriol of the current attack.

The failure of prior campaigns to curb the federal judiciary show that the more extreme the proposal, the less likely it is to succeed. Such legislative proposals detract from the real court-packing plan now pending in the Senate—the so-called "nuclear option," which would eliminate the filibuster for judicial nominations. The debate over the nuclear option has been conducted almost exclusively within the Senate. Although President Bush set the stage by renominating 20 individuals, he otherwise has not actively participated in this debate either.

The failure of Roosevelt's court-packing plan demonstrates that even the president is limited in what he can do to influence the decisions of the federal courts and the actions of the judges who staff them. The failure of Congress's efforts to limit the jurisdiction of federal courts shows that court-stripping is a congressional activity with more bark than bite. Today, more than ever, the Supreme Court continues to have the final say on even the most political legal disputes.

Rodger Citron is a visiting associate professor of Law at Touro Law Center. Full story.

 

Bob Allen: Dobson Compares Supreme Court to KKK

By Bob Allen, managing editor of EthicsDaily.com -- 04-13-05

Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, in a Monday broadcast decrying “activist” judges, compared the black-robed U.S. Supreme Court to the Ku Klux Klan.

The guest on Dobson’s Focus on the Family radio show was Mark Levin, author of the bestseller book Men in Black: How the Supreme Court is Destroying America.

Near the end of the interview, Dobson quoted Justice Antonin Scalia as referring to his colleagues on the high court as “black-robed masters.”

“Isn’t that incredible?” Dobson asked.

“You know it is incredible,” Levin replied. “I’m starting to think just to knock them down a notch, Dr. Dobson, that they should be required to wear again those white powdered wigs.”

Dobson then took the analogy a step further. “I heard a minister the other day talking about the great injustice and evil of the men in white robes, the Ku Klux Klan, that roamed the country in the South, and they did great wrong to civil rights and to morality,” he said. “And now we have black-robed men, and that’s what you’re talking about.”

Commentator Rush Limbaugh wrote the introduction to Levin’s book, which is currently No. 7 on the New York Times bestseller list. Dobson said he interviewed Levin at the suggestion of Fox News Channel commentator Sean Hannity.

Levin calls for imposing 12-year term limits on federal judges and granting Congress the power to overrule the Supreme Court with a two-thirds majority, similar to overriding a veto by the president.
“I’ve never understood the moral authority we’ve conferred to this institution,” Levin said. “The idea that a handful of lawyers should be setting policy for this nation … is crazy.”

Dobson said from his perspective “that all of the issues I care about--from the sanctity of marriage and the importance of the family and the preservation of the family and the unborn child and embryonic stem-cell research and cloning and all of the great moral issues--are all dependent upon the whims of the Supreme Court, and then because of them the lower courts. And we simply have to get a handle on that. And in order to do that we have to get a handle on our senators primarily.”

Dobson predicted that when it comes time to replace one of the current Supreme Court members it will be “World War III” in Washington. “There’s going to be a battle royal when Justice Rehnquist or another justice steps down,” he said.

Media Matters for America reported Dobson’s KKK comment Monday evening. The full broadcast is archived dated 4/11/05 at the Focus on the Family Web site.

 

Dobson escalates "judicial activism" rhetoric

Focus on the Family Action's monthly email alert says:

We're writing to let you know that Dr. James Dobson's April 2005 ministry letter for Focus on the Family Action has just been released. It deals with America's out-of-control judiciary, which threatens our democracy and the moral principles upon which our nation was founded. The letter opens with a discussion of the courts' role in the recent starvation of Terri Schiavo, and goes on to explain how judicial activism has contributed directly to the killing of unborn babies, the redefinition of marriage, the unregulated proliferation of obscenity, and the general assault on moral values and the American way of life that has crippled our society in recent years.

As Dr. Dobson notes in the introduction, the message contained in this letter is one of paramount importance. You can read it in its entirety online. After reading the letter, please join us in praying that reason, justice and morality will soon be restored to our nation's courtrooms. God's blessings to you in the days ahead.

P.S - If you would like to stay up-to-date on pro-family news such as this, sign up for the daily e-newsletter through CitizenLink online today.

DH: I remain on their mailing list, and have sent several letters explaining how they are wrong on American history, wrong on the judiciary's role, and wrong on constitutional interpretation. These have been ignored.

"Judicial activism" is a code word for the Republican onslaught on our independent judiciary. Notice they include the federal courts' inaction on the Schiavo case in that "activism" category, meaning -- the courts didn't decide that the way they want, so they're gonna attack the courts somehow.

The polls show that the American people by a margin of 4/1 disapproved of the Congress & White House intruding in this private family end-of-life decision, yet these right-wing extremists are still screaming about it. That, even though Bush and most Republican leaders in Congress (except Tom DeLay) are sending signals that they really do support an "independent judiciary."

They still want to ram 10 right-wing judicial nominees down the Senate's throat, even though the Democrats have gone along with about 200 of Bush's other judicial nominees. That's a rejection rate of only 5%, by the way, compared with 60 rejections by the Republican Senate of President Clinton's nominees. Yes, they rejected 6 times as many of Clinton's nominees as we Democrats have rejected of Bush's.

Friday, April 15, 2005

 

Haigler dares Frist to join right-wing telecast, using Congress.Org mail

Congress.Org mail

Dr. Dave Haigler
3925 N 11th St
Abilene, Tx 79603
April 15, 2005

The Honorable Bill Frist
United States Senate
509 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510-4205

Dear Senator Frist,

As a Texas Democratic County Chair, I hope you go through with your plan reported today of participating in a TV broadcast sponsored by the Family Research Council, attacking us Democrats as being anti-God for opposing President Bush's extremist judicial nominees.

You will be a much better target for our ridicule if you do that. We have been studying the records of these 10 extremists, like the one from Arkansas who could not satisfy Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison that he was committed to equal rights for women.

Show conclusively that you are controlled by the radical right. Please, do it.

Thanks for your consideration, Mr. Majority Leader.

Sincerely,
Dave Haigler

 

Limbaugh says high-school oral sex is Clinton's fault

In a comment today on a new network that Al Gore is involved with, Rush Limbaugh said this:

When does he start up this stupid little network? August? Yip yip yip yahoo. You know what Gore said about this? It's going to be liberal. It's going to reflect the point of view of young people. What the hell is that, Al? What the hell is the point of view of young people? B___ j__s, that's what they're doing out there. They're out there getting oral sex all day long, that's what they're talking about.

And Limbaugh went on to say, this is due to Clinton's experience with Monica.

 

NYTimes: Frist to join telecast portraying Democrats as 'against people of faith' for blocking President Bush's nominees.

NY Times

As the Senate heads toward a showdown over the rules governing judicial confirmations, Sen. Bill Frist, the Republican majority leader, has agreed to join a handful of prominent Christian conservatives in a telecast on April 24 portraying Democrats as 'against people of faith' for blocking President Bush's nominees. The broadcast is sponsored by the Family Research Council. Full Story.

 

Haigler responds re: heritage & Christian nation

We Democrats welcome folks like Mark Thorne, because Democrats respect divergent points of view, and don't try to outlaw all forms of behavior we may disagree with.

This will have to be brief because I'm committed to be at a meeting soon, but it seems to me Mr. Thorne's point of view reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of how liberty works.

Were we founded as a Christian nation? I'll concede most of the founders were Christians. See my piece, "Church and State - Values informed by religion are essential to govern," found at Haigler op-ed pieces. And, yes, there are aspects of our governmental structure that were undoubtedly influenced by those Christian beliefs. However, the founders were self-conciously trying not to establish a sectarian state. Twelve of the original 13 colonies had established denominations, but the federal government did not, and purposely so. It was non-sectarian enough that the U.S. could enter into the Treaty of Tripoli in the late 1790s and state categorically we were "not a Christian nation," as the people of Tripoli understood a "Christian nation" to be one like many European ones of the time that sent jihads against Muslim nations.

Mr. Thorne's second fallacy is in assuming that anything the courts allow, or refuse to punish, the courts are favoring. When an accused murderer gets acquitted, the court is not thereby favoring murder, for example. The same is true of the abortion decisions. The courts merely held that people involved in abortions cannot, under our system of liberty, be punished. Sean Sirrine, in his prior post, made that point eloquently.

The same is true of the case throwing out the Texas sodomy statute. The facts in that case are illuminating. The police broke into a private home by mistake, when they actually were looking for a neighbor, and found two people of the same sex engaging in a private sexual act. They arrested these two men, and the men asserted their privacy rights. The Supreme Court's opinion showed that earlier laws and cases dealt with such conduct in a public context, e.g., "public lewdness," and that only more-recent laws, in only 9 states, I believe it was, had focused punishment of such conduct done in private. That is, they found that criminalizing private homosexual acts was not something going back to the founding fathers.

As for homosexual marriage, in my view, this would not even be an issue if people had not used the laws to do hateful, discrimiantory things to people of a different sexual orientation. There have always been 8-10% of the population who are different that way. I would estimate less than 10% of them would want to get married. So we are talking about less than 1% of the population wanting this. Compare that to the Christian evangelical heterosexuals among us, maybe half the population, whom polls show are getting divorced in higher percentages than the general population. That would seem to me to be a greater threat to public morality than anything the homosexuals might be doing. So I'd suggest to Dr. James Dobson and others aligned with his Focus on the Family, that they clean up their own back yards before they take on the gays and lesbians of this country.

As for "euthanasia," I suppose Mr. Thorne is taking a backhanded slap at the Schiavo case. I will just say, this has been beat to death, here and elsewhere, but in summary, all the courts that heard this sided with Mrs. Schiavo's right to die with dignity, based on overwhelming evidence her husband submitted, and evidence his in-laws fell out with him over his refusal to share the malpractice settlement with them, which they had no right to whatsoever, and the in-laws trying to overrule all the lawful family decisions and lawful court rulings that all were against them. The federal government should never have intervened in this private matter, and 80% of Americans polled agree it shouldn't have. The right wing miscalculated, and have shown themselves to be about controlling people's lives, and not about doing the right thing.

But, again, we welcome Mr. Thorne to DemLog.

More op-eds by Haigler

 

Respect for God

Hello everybody, this is my first post on Demlog, and I think it is only fair to warn any readers that I am a libertarian.

I just wanted to respond to Mark Thorne's post, (I couldn't post a comment), in which he says that the post on this site are "out of line with our Christian heritage". I respect his opinion that abortions, homosexual marriage, and euthanasia are bad, but when did he get to decide what I can do?

Now, I find this an unusual post not because of the sentiment, but because Thorne believes it is a Christian duty to make others behave as we wish them to. I had thought that Christians had burned enough people at the stake for being non-believers that we had learned that method just doesn't work.

God gave each and every one of us free-will. He didn't give it to us so that some group of human beings could take it away from us. What group of humans knows better than God what humans should be allowed to do?

In fact, looking at the life of Jesus, I always get the impression that he was for forgiveness of sins, I mean he even let a prostitute wash his feet. My faith leads me to be more like Jesus and less like the organizations that call themselves Christian.

Maybe Thorne is right that these actions are immoral, I'm not going to argue against that. Unfortunately, he wants to insert the state between people and God. If these acts are immoral, God will do the punishing, I think He's got the authority on this one.

 

Respect for our heritage


 

Washington Post: Frist will push for curbing filibusters on judges

Washington Post

Failure Risks Conservatives' Ire; Success May Prompt Legislative Stalemate

By Charles Babington, Washington Post Staff Writer - Friday, April 15, 2005; Page A04

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is all but certain to press for a rule change that would ban filibusters of judicial nominations in the next few weeks, despite misgivings by some of his fellow Republicans and a possible Democratic backlash that could paralyze the chamber, close associates said yesterday. Full story.

DH: Story says the votes are 50/50 on this, with Cheney expected to break the tie. Sen. McCain is said to be still opposed to the change. Conventional wisdom says if Dems tie up the Senate in retaliation, the public won't like it.


 

MMfA highlights 9 Pulitzer winning cartoons criticizing Democrats

Media Matters for America

DH: The right-wing is fond of yelling "liberal media," and claiming that nothing critical of Democrats ever sees the light of day. Media Matters for America does a great job debunking that myth and this story collects some wonderful cartoons harpooning us Democrats. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 14, 2005

 

The Hill: GOP fears it's losing Frist v. Reid

The Hill - Newspaper for & about Congress

By Alexander Bolton

April 14--Senate Republican leaders were due to meet last night amid rising concern that they are being beaten on the “nuclear option” by Sen. Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) public-relations war room.

 

AP: Congress Passes Bankruptcy Reform Bill

Yahoo/AP

AP - 7 minutes ago
Tens of thousands of people who want to wipe out their debts in bankruptcy court would have to work out repayment plans instead under legislation Congress approved Thursday.

 

MMfA: FOX's Hume & GWU's Turley don't see problem with Pryor's nomination to 11th Circuit federal court

MMfA

FOX News' Brit Hume interviewed George Washington University Law School professor Jonathan Turley about whether the judicial nominees submitted by President Bush that Senate Democrats have blocked are really "as hard right as their opponents claim." But in purporting to analyze nominees whom Democrats have blocked, both Turley and Hume omitted key reasons Democrats have cited for opposing these nominations.

On Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume, Turley and Hume discussed some of Bush's nominees that Democrats have blocked, for example, former Alabama Attorney General William Pryor (given a recess appointment by Bush to the 11th Circuit).

On the subject of Pryor, Turley noted that "I actually know" him and said that Pryor was "sharp as a whip" and "a real bright light." Turley added: "I think he's gotten a raw deal, quite frankly." But Turley failed to mention that Democrats have sharply criticized his role -- and inconsistent answers to the Judiciary Committee about that role -- in co-founding and leading the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA), "which raises campaign donations from corporations that its members, as attorneys general, may have a duty to investigate, prosecute or sue," according to a report by the progressive judicial watchdog group Alliance for Justice. The report further outlined additional reasons for Democratic opposition to Pryor's nomination:

Co-chair of the 2000 Bush-Cheney campaign in Alabama, Pryor was the only attorney general to file an amicus brief in support of President Bush's position in Bush v. Gore, a case involving Florida -- not Alabama -- election law. ... [Pryor] made Alabama the only state seeking to strike down parts of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and the Clean Water Act (CWA). Thirty-six other states opposed Pryor on VAWA, eight others on CWA. ... [Pryor] filed briefs calling for eliminating protections in the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Endangered Species Act. ... Pryor called Roe v. Wade "the worst abomination of constitutional law in our history."

In 1997, Pryor, along with the Christian Coalition's Ralph Reed, attended a "Save the Commandments" rally in Montgomery, Alabama, where he stated: "God has chosen, through his son Jesus Christ, this time and this place for all Christians ... to save our country and save our courts." ... Pryor claimed that executing the mentally retarded did not violate the U.S. Constitution's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. The U.S. Supreme Court, in Atkins v. Virginia, rejected Pryor's argument, and prohibited all states from executing the mentally retarded.

Turley also claimed that Pryor "carried out his duties" as attorney general by filing ethics charges against former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore when Moore refused to obey a court decision ordering the removal of a two-and-a-half ton Ten Commandments monument from the foyer of the state Supreme Court building. Turley contended that though Pryor personally agreed with Moore on the issue, he was willing to file the charges that led to Moore's removal from the Alabama Supreme Court, proving that "even against his own views," Pryor "will carry out the law." But Turley failed to note the extent to which Pryor publicly supported Moore and marshaled the resources of his office to defend him before eventually filing ethics charges; Pryor actually appointed "three private lawyers as Deputy Attorneys General of Alabama to represent Moore" in federal district court, and when the district judge held Moore's actions unconstitutional, Pryor's office joined Moore's efforts in appealing the decision to the 11th Circuit. Turley also did not mention that at the time he filed the state ethics charges against Moore, Pryor was in the midst of a highly contentious battle in the Senate over his nomination to the 11th Circuit.

Hume introduced the segment by claiming that Senate Democrats believe they are "entitled to use the extraordinary step of denying them [judicial nominees] a vote in the Senate to keep them off our nation's second-highest courts." But as Media Matters for America has repeatedly noted, the Republican-controlled Senate prevented approximately 60 of former president Bill Clinton's nominees from receiving a vote on the Senate floor, and in many cases, even a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee. And despite Democrats' opposition to a few of Bush's nominees, The Washington Post pointed out in a December 13, 2003, article that "confirmation of Bush nominees exceeds in most cases the first-term experience of presidents dating to Ronald Reagan."

DH: Democrats have blocked only 10 of Bush's nominees, compared to the Republicans blocking 60 of Clinton's. It is also interesting to note that Judge Pryor was the only judge not participating in the last Schiavo appeal to the 11th Circuit, as he was recuperating from surgery. Apparently the Bushies think he would have been there for them if he had been well enough.


 

NYU student newspaper: Scalia defends "originalism" amidst student protests

NYU's Washington Square News:

Close to 50 NYU law students and members of the New York community lined the sidewalk outside of Vanderbilt Hall yesterday afternoon to protest Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who was being honored by a student-run law journal.

Scalia visited NYU to receive an honor from the members of the NYU Annual Survey of American Law , which is dedicating their 2005 issue to Scalia.

Scalia is the subject of controversy for his dissenting opinion in Lawrence v. Texas, in which he criticized the decision to overturn a law that criminalized sodomy. While on the court he voted for the right to desecrate the American flag, and against the right to abortion and the right to engage in homosexual sex.

Prior to the dedication ceremony, Scalia met with law students for a Q-and-A session in Tishman Hall. The Q-and-A had limited seating - the audience was chosen randomly from students who RSVPed - and was closed to the press, though the discussion was simulcast on a projector across the hall.

As he fielded questions from the students, Scalia defended his methods of judicial interpretation, known as originalism, or interpreting the Constitution to mean what the framers originally intended.

"The constitution is not a living organism," Scalia said, espousing his belief that the Constitution's interpretation should not change over time. "It's a legal document."

This theory of judicial interpretation supports change through legislation and persuading fellow citizens to pass laws, rather than using decisions of the Supreme Court to create legislation.

"The Supreme Court is essentially writing a new Constitution," he said.

 

NY Times: DeLay refers his hostility over Schiavo judges to House committee

NY Times

Majority Leader Asks House Panel to Review Judges
By SHERYL GAY STOLBERG Published: April 14, 2005

WASHINGTON, April 13 - Deflecting all questions about his ethical conduct and political future, Representative Tom DeLay, the House majority leader, on Wednesday stepped up his crusade against judges, announcing that he had instructed the Judiciary Committee to investigate federal court decisions in the Terri Schiavo case and to recommend possible legislation.

... Full story.

Mr. DeLay was not specific about what legislative changes, if any, he would like to see emerge from the Judiciary Committee's review. But in announcing that he had asked Representative F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., a Wisconsin Republican and the committee chairman, to examine the actions of federal judges in the Schiavo case, Mr. DeLay said the House had previously passed legislation limiting the jurisdiction of the courts and breaking up the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, a bill that died in the Senate.

"We set the jurisdiction of the courts," Mr. DeLay said. "We set up the courts. We can unset the courts."

As to the ethics questions, Mr. DeLay repeated that he was "more than happy" to have the House ethics committee review those issues. But it cannot do so because the committee is embroiled in a fight over rules changes that critics say will discourage ethics inquiries. Democrats, upset that Republicans adopted the changes without their cooperation, are refusing to constitute the committee this session. The panel met Wednesday to try to resolve the impasse, but was unsuccessful.

"We're trying to find some common ground," said the chairman, Representative Doc Hastings, Republican of Washington. "We have been talking. As long as we can talk, I tend to be an optimist."

Democrats, meanwhile, sharply criticized the ethics rule changes on Wednesday at a news conference that featured Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the House Democratic leader, and the Senate Democratic leader, Harry Reid of Nevada. Ms. Pelosi warned that House Republicans, who rode to power in 1994 by portraying Democrats as arrogant, had become arrogant. "I have said for a long time their greed will be their downfall," she said.

At least one Republican, Mr. Shays, seemed to agree on Wednesday. "I'm no fan of Nancy Pelosi," he said. But, he added, "we said we would be different and we were when we started out. We are quickly becoming like they were when they were in the majority."

Katharine Q. Seelye contributed reporting for this article.



Wednesday, April 13, 2005

 

AP/Yahoo: DeLay Apologizes for Schiavo Case Rhetoric but doesn't recant on impeachment threat

Yahoo/AP

38 minutes ago - Politics - U. S. Congress

By DAVID ESPO, AP Special Correspondent

WASHINGTON - House Majority Leader Tom DeLay apologized Wednesday for using overheated rhetoric on the day Terri Schiavo died, but refused to say whether he supports impeachment of the judges who ruled in her case.

DH: He doesn't sound very sorry to me.

 

Slate: today's blogs - The latest chatter in cyberspace.

Slate blogs

Judging the Judges By David Wallace-Wells
Posted Wednesday, April 13, 2005, at 3:53 PM PT

Republican senators are considering accelerating efforts to block Democratic filibusters against judicial nominees, a confrontation that had been expected no sooner than May. Debate has heated up over procedure for judicial appointments and the role of the judiciary itself following a conference held last week by religious conservatives on the dissonance between religion and the courts. Participants called for the impeachment of Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, saying the justice "upholds Marxist, Leninist, satanic principles drawn from foreign law," the Washington Post reported. (Sam Rosenfeld has direct-to-blog coverage of the conference at TAPPED, the roundtable of liberal monthly American Prospect). The New York Times reports that both Bill Frist and Arlen Specter think the rhetoric of the struggle has been getting out of hand. Full story.

 

CNN: DeLay apologizes for comment about judges

CNN

Political heat rises over ethics questions
04/13/05 06:46 PM, EDT
House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, riding out a political storm over allegations he took trips that were paid for by lobbyists, tried to put to rest another swirling controversy Wednesday: his threats of retribution against judges involved in the Terri Schiavo case.

 

FOX still falsely claims Kerry outed CIA agent

FOX News

FOX News-Brit Hume: The CIA says that Massachusetts Democratic Senator John Kerry (search) and Indiana Republican Senator Richard Lugar (search) inadvertently identified a CIA officer working undercover at Monday's Senate hearing on John Bolton's nomination to be U.N. ambassador.

DH: This notwithstanding Media Matters for America has documented that this agent has been publicly identified several times going back to 2001.

 

MMfA: CIA agent Fulton Armstrong has been publicly identified back to 2001

MMfA

DH: This evidence contradicts right-wing claims that John Kerry "outed" Armstrong in a senate committee hearing.

 

Slate's today's papers: A summary of what's in the major U.S. newspapers

Slate

'Bully' for Him By Eric Umansky
Posted Wednesday, April 13, 2005, at 12:43 AM PT

The Los Angeles Times' top non-local spot goes to the State Dept's former intel chief telling senators that U.N.-ambassador nominee John Bolton is a "serial abuser" of underlings and did indeed try to get one analyst fired who had challenged Bolton's ill-supported allegations against Cuba. USA Today leads with and others stuff the indictment of three British nationals for allegedly casing financial buildings on the East Coast four years ago for a potential terrorist strike. The men are currently being held in the U.K., where they're suspected of trying to target Heathrow. The Wall Street Journal's world-wide newsbox goes high with an FDA advisory panel, citing insufficient safety data, voting 5-4 to keep tight restrictions on the sale of silicone breast implants.

The Washington Post leads with federal prosecutors indicting 15 current and former traders at the NYSE for allegedly ripping off their clients by saving the best prices for themselves. The numbers seem piddling—"at least $32 million" in trades—but the Post says what's unusual is the criminal charges themselves. Citing hidden "senior American and Israeli officials," the New York Times leads with Israeli Prime Minister Sharon at the ranch Monday showing President Bush some intel on Iran's nuclear program and trying to convince the president to turn up on the pressure on Teheran. Paraphrasing a U.S. official, the Times dubs the intel "neither startling nor new." And it's the lead story because?

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

 

Salon: JCCCR declares onslaught on courts

Salon-"In Theocracy We Trust"

Article Excerpt:

The Judeo-Christian Council for Constitutional Restoration is a new coalition whose membership includes major figures in the religious right. Moral Majority's Jerry Falwell, Eagle Forum's Phyllis Schlafly and Ray Flynn, the former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, are among those on its executive committee. During last weekend's conference in Washington, though, the JCCCR's public face was interim chairman Rick Scarborough, the former pastor of Texas' First Baptist Church of Pearland. Scarborough, a close ally of Majority Leader Tom DeLay, now runs a group called Vision America, which is working to mobilize a network of "patriot pastors" for nationwide political action. He's also the author of a booklet titled "In Defense of … Mixing Church and State." It argues that the belief that the Constitution provides for separation of church and state is "a lie introduced by Satan and fostered by the courts. Unfortunately, it is embraced by the American public to our shame and disgrace, and that lie has led us to the edge of the abyss."

 

MMfA: O'Reilly denied calling the pope "senile" -- but he did

Media Matters for America

Monday, April 11, 2005

 

Dark Side-JCCCR-Judeo-Christian Council for Constitutional Restoration reports on "Judicial War on Faith conference"

Stop Activist Judges

DVD's from this past week's Confronting the Judicial War on Faith Conference are now available at http://www.stopactivistjudges.org.

DH: It is scary what these people are up to.

 

Washington Post: Bush has the lowest approval rating of any president in second term

Bush's Poll Position Is Worst on Record
Second Terms are Tough, and No President Has Banked Less Political Capital for the Fights Ahead

By Terry M. Neal - washingtonpost.com Staff Writer
Monday, April 11, 2005; 8:29 AM Washington Post, full story.

 

Rep. Cong. Ron Paul: Christians in Iraq were better off under Saddam

Congressional transcript

"Are Christian Iraqis better off today since we decided to build a new Iraq through force of arms?"

The answer is plainly no.

Sure, there are only 800,000 Christians living in Iraq, but under
Saddam Hussein they were free to practice their religion.

Tariq Aziz, a Christian, served in Saddam Hussein's cabinet as Foreign Minister-- something that would never happen in Saudi Arabia, Israel, or any other Middle Eastern country.

Today, the Christian churches in Iraq are under attack and Christians are no longer safe.

Many Christians have been forced to flee Iraq and migrate to Syria.

It's strange that the human rights advocates in the U.S. Congress have expressed no concern for the persecution now going on against Christians in Iraq.

Both the Sunni and the Shiite Muslims support the attacks on
Christians.

In fact, persecuting Christians is one of the few areas in which they agree-- the other being the removal of all foreign forces from Iraqi soil. Full story.

 

Bush culture of "life" fraudulently is the opposite

Frank Rich op-ed

NY Times op-ed columnist Frank Rich shows how the Bush administration policies really support a culture of death, not life.

 

NY Times: Dems are using Gingrich 1994 playbook for 2006 takeover

NY Times

In the Partisan Power Struggle, a New Underdog Tries Old Tricks
By ROBIN TONER and CARL HULSE - Published: April 11, 2005

WASHINGTON, April 10 - Newt Gingrich, the conservative firebrand who won control of Congress a decade ago by campaigning against an entrenched, arrogant and all-powerful Democratic majority, is once again an inspirational figure on Capitol Hill. Full story.

 

NY Times: Tribes' casino money goes for questionable donations by lobbyist Abramoff

NY Times

Inquiries of Top Lobbyist Shine Unwelcome Light in Congress - By PHILIP SHENON - Published: April 11, 2005

WASHINGTON, April 10 - Jack Abramoff, one of Washington's most powerful and best-paid lobbyists, needed $100,000 in a hurry.

Mr. Abramoff, known to envious competitors as "Casino Jack" because of his multimillion-dollar lobbying fees from the gambling operations of American Indians, wrote to a Texas tribe in June 2002 to say that a member of Congress had "asked if we could help (as in cover) a Scotland golf trip for him and some staff" that summer. "The trip will be quite expensive," Mr. Abramoff said in the e-mail message, estimating that the bills "would be around $100K or more." He added that in 2000, "We did this for another member - you know who." Full story.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

 

Newsweek: comraderie of 3 presidents on AF-1 to Rome

Newsweek

Three Amigos in Rome
Behind the scenes at the papal funeral, Bush, Bush and Clinton were inseparable

WEB EXCLUSIVE - By Holly Bailey
Newsweek - Updated: 2:32 p.m. ET April 9, 2005

April 9 - A year ago, it would have seemed so improbable. Then came the death of a president, an election with a clear outcome, a tragic tsunami. It all paved the way for what was, nonetheless, a remarkable scene enroute to the funeral of Pope John Paul. Three presidents-one current and two former-kicking back on Air Force One, trading stories about life in the White House over a meal of burgers and onion rings. Full story.

 

Cornyn, Schumer bicker on FOX News Sunday over senate filibuster use

FOX News

Chris Wallace of FOX News interviewed Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) Sunday over the Republicans' threat to take the "nuclear option" to remove the filibuster against the president's judicial nominees, and the Democrats' threat to slow senate business down by refusing unanimous consent on much routine senate business.

 

Washington Times tries to make Bush's undercutting of Social Security Clintonesque

Washington Times

In this piece by Bill Sammon, Bush Jr. tries to make his gutting of Social Security like something Bill Clinton tried to do.

 

AP: Moderate Republican Rep. Shays Says DeLay Should Step Down

AP News

Apr 10, 4:44 PM (ET)
By LOU KESTEN

WASHINGTON (AP) - Rep. Christopher Shays (R-Connecticut) said Sunday that fellow Republican Rep. Tom DeLay should step down as House majority leader because his continuing ethics problems are hurting the GOP.

"Tom's conduct is hurting the Republican Party, is hurting this Republican majority and it is hurting any Republican who is up for re-election," Shays told The Associated Press on Sunday.

DeLay, R-Texas, has been dogged in recent months by reports of possible ethics violations. There have been questions about his overseas travel, campaign payments to family members and his connections to lobbyists who are under investigation.

A moderate Republican from Connecticut who has battled with his party's leadership on a number of issues, Shays said efforts by the House GOP members to change ethics rules to protect DeLay only make the party look bad. Full story.

 

Buzzflash: PFAW asks Frist to nix David Barton tour

Buzzflash

BUZZFLASH NEWS ALERT

A Release from PFAW:

In view of the continuing drumbeat of threats and disturbing comments about federal judges (including Congressman DeLay’s declaration in news reports today that the judiciary has “run amok”), and the recent tragic violence against judges and their families, People For the American Way has asked Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) to withdraw his sponsorship of a Capitol tour for Senators and their spouses led by a right-wing advocate for judicial intimidation and impeachment. Full story.

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