Wednesday, April 06, 2005

I'm Just a Bill . . .

Via Uggabugga (who learns via Sandrover), we read of a Senate bill entitled "The Constitution Restoration Act of 2005," which aims to freeze the US Constitution in amber while offering public officials a perpetual "God Made Me Do It" defense against the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. As summarized, S.520 (and its same-sex partner, HR 1070)
Amends the Federal judicial code to prohibit the U.S. Supreme Court and the Federal district courts from exercising jurisdiction over any matter in which relief is sought against an entity of Federal, State, or local government or an officer or agent of such government concerning that entity's, officer's, or agent's acknowledgment of God as the sovereign source of law, liberty, or government. [In other words, Federal courts could no longer restrict public officials from displaying the Ten Commandments; obstruct school districts from reciting the Lord's Prayer before football games; interfere with the resumption of chattel slavery; or to prevent states from enacting laws to stone the lazy, as required in Deuteronomy 21:18-21. If you want to see how this might work out in Tennessee, read this hilarious revised state code. E.g., "Any man or boy found to have wounded gonads shall be barred from entering [a place of worship]."]

Prohibits a court of the United States from relying upon any law, policy, or other action of a foreign state or international organization in interpreting and applying the Constitution, other than English constitutional and common law up to the time of adoption of the U.S. Constitution. [In other words, phrases like "evolving standards of decency" will no longer appear in Federal Court decisions, since (a) "evolution" is only a theory, not a fact; and (b) foreigners, especially the enlightened secular states of Europe, are not "decent" in the ways of the Lord, so fuck 'em.]

Provides that any Federal court decision relating to an issue removed from Federal jurisdiction by this Act is not binding precedent on State courts. [In other words, the several states and their court systems can go hog wild now, disregarding precedent with no fear of Federal review.]

Provides that any Supreme Court justice or Federal court judge who exceeds the jurisdictional limitations of this Act shall be deemed to have committed an offense for which the justice or judge may be removed, and to have violated the standard of good behavior required of Article III judges by the Constitution. [In other words, Congress will impeach judges for overstepping their newly-circumscribed authority, at which point they will be turned over to John Cornyn's Righteous Anti-Judicial Army of Texas, where the frustration with judges "builds up and builds up and builds up to the point wheresome people engage — engage in violence."]
This bill was first introduced, with little success, in 2004 by Sen. Richard Shelby — he of the Ten Commandments-land of Alabama — and I can't imagine it will have any greater fortune this time around. Because this bill is more or less a sop to the Jesus People, I won't bother critiquing the flawed logic behind this sort of "originalism" (the new term of art for what used to be called "strict constructionism," which has too many syllables and no longer tests well in evangelical focus groups). But it should be pointed out that these people (including Trent Lott, who's a co-sponsor) are seemingly intent now on using anti-judicial venom to eviscerate Federalism itself, effectively turning Article I of the Constitution into an angry, populist fiefdom enclosing Article III. Why such strong measures? Why now? Well, as Glen Lavy — lawyer for the Alliance Defense Fundexplained last year when the bill was first introduced, “It’s never gotten to the point before where courts have so exceeded their jurisdiction.”

Really? Never? Wow! These guys are awfully forbearing! I mean, if I'd been alive for the last half century and watched federal courts thumb their noses at "originalism" by dismantling American apartheid, protecting the First Amendment rights of journalists, clarifying a right to privacy that protects women and the gays, and overturning the right to execute children . . . I mean, I'd really be pissed!

Since I'm teaching the Brown v. Board of Education decision today, I thought I'd put all this in a bit of historical perspective by quoting John Cornyn's ideological ancestor, a Mississippi State Supreme Court judge who flipped his wig after the US Supreme Court overturned Plessy in 1954. In his book Black Monday, Tom Brady also railed against "activist judges" who disrgarded God as the sovereign source of law and took their marching orders from foreigners, especially the Communists. As Brady explained, anticipating the rage of his contemporary brethren,
Black Monday ranks in importance with July 4, 1776, the date upon which our Declaration of Independence was signed. May 17, 1954, is the date upon which the declaration of socialistic doctrine was officially proclaimed throughout the nation. It was on Black Monday that the judicial branch of our government usurped the sacred privilege and right of the representative states of this union to educate their youth. This usurpation constitutes the greatest travesty of the American Constitution…in the history of the nation.
Anyone who wants to understand the vile depths to which this sort of anti-judicial mood can sink a nation should read about the campaign of "massive [white] resistance" that followed the Brown decision in the South from about 1954-1963. Not that history matters, of course. We're all just a bunch of liberals anyway.