...then she took aim at former GOP house leader Tom DeLay. She didn’t name him, but she quoted his attacks on the courts at a meeting of the conservative Christian group Justice Sunday last year when DeLay took out after the courts for rulings on abortions, prayer and the Terri Schiavo case. This, said O’Connor was after the federal courts had applied Congress’ onetime only status of Schiavo as it was written. Not, said O’Connor, as the congressman might have wished it were written. This response to this flagrant display of judicial restraint, said O’Connor, her voice dripping with sarcasm, was that the congressman blasted the courts.
...It doesn’t help, she said, when a high-profile senator suggests there may be a connection between violence against judges and decisions that a senator disagrees with. She didn’t name him, but it was Texas senator John Cornyn who made that statement, after a Georgia judge was murdered in the courtroom and the family of a federal judge in Illinois murdered in the judge’s home. O’Connor observed that there have been a lot of suggestions
lately for so-called judicial reforms, recommendations for the massive
impeachment of judges, stripping the courts of jurisdiction and cutting judicial budgets for punishing offending judges. Any of these might be debatable, she said, as long as they are not retaliation for decisions that political leaders disagree with.
I, said O’Connor, am against judicial reforms driven by nakedly partisan reasoning. Pointing to the experience of developing countries and former communist countries where interference with an independent judiciary has allowed dictatorship to flourish, O’Connor said we must be ever-vigilant against those who would strongarm the judiciary into adopting their preferred policies. It takes a long of degeneration before a country falls into dictatorship, she said, but we should avoid these ends by avoiding these beginnings.
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