Saturday, January 01, 2005

Rehnquist defends lifetime tenures

"WASHINGTON - Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, ailing from thyroid cancer, defended lifetime appointments for judges as necessary to insulate them from pressures as they deal with politically sensitive issues.
Rehnquist's year-end report, to be released today, addresses concerns about so-called activist judges and Congress' move to strip judges of some of their authority."

Rehnquist said that judges should not be punished by Congress because of their decisions and that their lifetime tenure protects their independence.

``It is not a perfect system -- vacancies do not occur on regular schedules, and judges do not always decide cases the way their appointers might have anticipated. But for over 200 years it has served our democracy well and ensured a commitment to the rule of law,'' Rehnquist said.LINK

I have to agree that this is not a perfect system in that tenure protects a person from being accountable for abuse of their position. This can hold true for teachers, legislators as well as judges. Years ago, the solemn charge that came with accepting the position seemed enough to keep most persons in lifetime positions accountable to the highest standard of conduct in their professional role and to leave their personal politics or agendas outside the realm of their work. This no longer appears to be the case.

In the United States there is a separation of powers. If the executive branch extends it's powers, there is a remedy. Congress may impeach, people will not re-elect and the Supreme Court can rule against the executive branch. The same holds true for congressional members in that the individual vote of one or of a minority of members can not mandate a congressional vote, they may be censured and kept out of leadership positions within congress and the people can vote them out of office. Truly illegal activity of a representative or senator may be and has been handled by the courts, thereby forcing resignation from the position held. Unless the people, through their elected congress and executive branch have some means of dealing with judges who act beyond the scope of what is acceptable by the people, we have a judicial dictatorship. Our republic ceases to be for the people and by the people since we do not have a direct voice in the appointment of judges to the Federal and Supreme Courts.

Our Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution with a system of checks and balances. Legislation is the function of Congress and not of activist judges
who bring their own personal bias into their rulings. One of the reasons that I, as an Independent voter, voted for Republicans was my hope that this judicial misuse of their powers would be reigned in. Something as significant as gay marriage should not be based on the opinion of a few but rather voted on by referendum to do the will of the majority of the people.

"Is there no virtue among us? If there be not, we are in a wretched situation. No theoretical checks-no form of government can render us secure. To suppose that any form of government will secure liberty or happiness without any virtue in the people, is a chimerical idea, if there be sufficient virtue and intelligence in the community, it will be exercised in the selection of these men. So that we do not depend on their virtue, or put confidence in our rulers, but in the people who are to choose them." --James Madison
"'Tis substantially true, that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule indeed extends with more or less force to every species of free Government." --George Washington

The recent election and the power of "values" plus the number of states who passed law against non traditional marriage should indicate what the majority of people in this nation support. The courts who consistently favor the minority opinion, the offense to one or a few individuals sensitivity to anything that represents the moral and faith values of our founding fathers is the reason people are upset with the courts. If and when judges hold their interpretations in light of constitutional origins, we the people will not accept tenure for life as a given for anyone in public office.

For other opinions read Patterico

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