The hijacking of the courts

A. J. Atchue

You may not be aware of it, but there is an unmistakable movement underway hijacking the very nature and purpose of the judiciary and the process by which federal judges are confirmed. The first part of the problem is that we have activist judges across the country taking the law into their own hands and basically telling Congress to take a hike.

Let’s revisit that controversial partial-birth abortion bill recently passed by Congress and signed by President Bush. The bill banned the barbaric practice of terminating the life of a viable fetus in the later stages of pregnancy, sometimes as the fetus is about to be delivered. This specific type of abortion should offend everyone’s sense of decency, yet the ban has been roundly scorned by Washington’s most liberal lawmakers and by pro-abortion advocacy groups nationwide.

Enter U.S. District Judge Richard Kopf from Nebraska. Less than one hour after Bush signed the partial-birth abortion bill into law, Kopf blocked the ban from applying to four doctors in a lawsuit brought by abortion-rights supporters. These doctors are licensed to practice in 13 states. Kopf cited concerns that the law did not provide an exemption for preserving the health of the mother seeking the abortion. However, interpretation of the “health” exemption in past instances has ranged from legitimate problems to a simple headache, which is nothing short of absurd.

What’s really important here is a lawsuit was brought challenging a law that wasn’t even in effect yet. Then, to repair that abuse of the judicial system, Kopf made himself look like a fool by throwing out a one-hour old piece of federal legislation. Kopf basically thumbed his nose at Congress and from the bench imposed his own law on the people of Nebraska and any other state that wants to use his pre-emptive ruling as precedent. Something tells me that this was the role that James Madison had in mind for the judiciary when he wrote the Constitution.

Luckily, in that case, competent heads prevailed and the recall went on as scheduled. But in a recent federal case in San Diego, a liberal judge declared the Boy Scouts a religious organization, thereby barring them from receiving public land. No, I’m not kidding!

Add to this craziness the fact that Democrats in the Senate are currently ignoring the very process of confirming federal judges. The Constitution provides that the President shall appoint federal judges with the “advice and consent” of the Senate. The custom has always been to give each nominee an up or down vote on confirmation, but the rules apparently changed.

The Democratic opposition to four of Bush’s nominees has instead led a filibuster, which results in endless debate and essentially prevents up or down votes on the nominees indefinitely. Democrats defend their action by pointing to the fact that they have confirmed 168 of Bush’s nominees, all except these four.

They claim that the candidates have not adequately expressed their views on certain issues, but ignore the fact that all of the nominees have had distinguished careers to this point and have worked hard to get to be nominated. Never before has a judicial nominee been denied a yes or no confirmation vote in the Senate.

One nominee has been called a “kook” and “scary” on the Senate floor, while another’s views have been characterized as “despicable.” Such defamatory and offensive comments against any judicial nominee have no place in our Senate.

Democrats should be ashamed of destroying anyone’s reputation without merit, regardless of how many other lesser judges they’ve confirmed. Every nominee deserves a yes or no vote from the entire Senate, and losing such votes is a consequence of being in the minority.

Clearly, America’s judicial system is under attack by a group of mainly leftist judges, lawmakers and special-interest groups who seem to have no regard for the Constitutional judicial process and role. Our Founding Fathers should be rolling in their graves at this alarming travesty.