Friday, April 22, 2005
It's A "Pay Before You Pray" Deal
Evangelical Christian leaders, who have been working closely with senior Republican lawmakers to place conservative judges in the federal courts, have also been exploring ways to punish sitting jurists and even entire courts viewed as hostile to their cause.Let's review.
An audio recording obtained by the Los Angeles Times features two of the nation's most influential evangelical leaders, at a private conference with supporters, laying out strategies to rein in judges, such as stripping funding from their courts in an effort to hinder their work.
The discussion took place during a Washington conference last month that included addresses by House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, who discussed efforts to bring a more conservative cast to the courts.
Frist and DeLay have not publicly endorsed the evangelical groups' proposed actions. But the taped discussion among evangelical leaders provides a glimpse of the road map they are drafting as they work with congressional Republicans to achieve a judiciary that sides with them on abortion, same-sex marriage and other elements of their agenda.
"There's more than one way to skin a cat, and there's more than one way to take a black robe off the bench," said Tony Perkins, president of the conservative Family Research Council, according to an audiotape of a March 17 session. The tape was provided to The Times by the advocacy group Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
DeLay has spoken generally about one of the ideas the leaders discussed in greater detail: using legislative tactics to withhold money from courts.
"We set up the courts. We can unset the courts. We have the power of the purse," DeLay said at an April 13 question-and-answer session with reporters.
Perkins said that he had attended a meeting with congressional leaders a week earlier where the strategy of stripping funding from certain courts was "prominently" discussed. "What they're thinking of is not only the fact of just making these courts go away and re-creating them the next day but also defunding them," Perkins said.
He said that instead of undertaking the long process of trying to impeach judges, Congress could use its appropriations authority to "just take away the bench, all of his staff, and he's just sitting out there with nothing to do."
These curbs on courts are "on the radar screen, especially of conservatives here in Congress," he said.
[James] Dobson, who emerged last year as one of the evangelical movement's most important political leaders, named one potential target: the California-based U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
"Very few people know this, that the Congress can simply disenfranchise a court," Dobson said. "They don't have to fire anybody or impeach them or go through that battle. All they have to do is say the 9th Circuit doesn't exist anymore, and it's gone."
Robert Stevenson, a spokesman for Frist, said Thursday that the Senate leader does not agree with the idea of defunding courts or shutting them down, pointing to Frist's comments earlier this month embracing a "fair and independent judiciary." A spokesman for DeLay declined to comment.
The remarks by Perkins and Dobson drew fire from Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, who charged that the two leaders were more brazen in such private encounters with supporters than their more genteel public images portray.
"To talk about defunding judges is just about the most bizarre, radical approach to controlling the outcome of court decisions that you can imagine," Lynn said.
Two men who control large religious organizations -- whose tenets are not supposed to be forced upon Americans, as detailed in the plain language of the First Amendment -- don't like the fact that [a] courts in this country keep overturning laws which attempt to force those tenets upon Americans, and [b] can't pack the courts with ideologues willing to usurp the law in favor of their dogma.
So they believe that -- in violation of the Constitutional principle of checks and balances -- the legislative branch should cut the funding of the judiciary.
These men are not Americans. They may have been born here, they may have citizenship, they may even be buddies with the Preznit and his flunkies... but Tony Perkins and James Dobson have shown, time and again, that their goal is to undermine our very system of government in favor of a radical theocracy. At the very least, their "religious" organizations should lose their tax-exempt status. At the most... well, sedition charges are a good start.
They're not merely traitors. They're terrorists... of the Osama bin Laden variety.
> They're terrorists... of the Osama bin Laden variety.
Osama bin Laden might share their goal, but defunding judges isn't the same as organizing aircraft flying into building full of people. It's bad, but it's not the same variety of bad.