Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Cornyn on Judicial Violence

First, an apology. I meant to add a caveat about my last post, regarding Tom DeLay's alleged threat to the judiciary. From my reading of the quote, it sounded more as if DeLay was threatening retribution in the more biblical sense of the term, as in the judges will go to hell, rather than a physical threat. Still pretty deplorable, but not rising to the level of rhetoric we've been hearing about it. Upon rereading it, the quote is pretty ambiguous, I can see it being interpreted either way. Anyway, here is the context, in case y'all were wondering. "This loss happened because our legal system did not protect the people who need protection most, and that will change. The time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior."

Texas Senator John Cornyn (R), however, requires no such caveat. In a speech on the Senate floor, he said the following:
"It causes a lot of people, including me, great distress to see judges use the authority that they have been given to make raw political or ideological decisions. The Supreme Court has taken on this role as a policymaker rather than an enforcer of political decisions made by elected representatives of the people.

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."

Now let's be clear. It is men and women like Cornyn who have been stirring up this sort of anti-republican (small "r"), quasi-revolutionary rhetoric. Cornyn tells more in this quote than he'd like to admit. It is precisely is disdain for checks and balances that ratifies the violent behavior he purports to condemn (or in this case, "explain"). Dozens of Texas militiamen hear his hyperbolic rhetoric about how the republic is collapsing and stand ready to take arms in assault of the judiciary. Of course he doesn't explicitly endorse it. I'm sure he doesn't even privately agree. But his rhetoric acts as a powerful form of encouragement, and his continuance of it even after death threats and bounties on the judge in the Schiavo case, is simply deplorable.

The Nashua Advocate (which appears to be online-only, I can't tell how legitimate it is), calls for Cornyn's resignation. Personally, I think Cornyn's political career should have permanently ended after his role in the Tulia, Texas travesty. For those of you who don't know about that, a rogue cop in Tulia arrested almost half the town's black population on trumped up drug charges. Despite virtually no evidence (the cop had no audio or video evidence, took notes on his arms and legs, and repeatedly misidentified defendants), they were nearly all convicted, with sentences of up to 99 years in jail. Cornyn, then the Attorney General of Texas, gave the office Texas' "lawman of the year" award. After a year in prison, virtually all of the defendants were eventually exonerated. But in Texas, incarcerating innocent black people is grounds for a promotion, not punishment.

Daily Kos has a roundup of links, including The Left Coaster, America Blog, Atrios, and US Representative John Conyers (D-MI).

Other folks weighing in include Talking Points Memo, The Moderate Voice, Kevin Drum, and Brad Plumer.

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