when is it ok to kill a judge?

First, it was Tom DeLay saying that any judges standing between Terri Schiavo and her feeding tube would have to “answer for their behavior.” Now, Senator John Cornyn, another Republican from Texas, is implying that so-called “activist judges” might themselves be to blame for the recent acts of violence against members of the US judiciary. If you didn’t see the offensive Cornyn speech in question, you can find a C-Span clip at the One Good Move site. And here’s the beginning of the editorial on Cornyn from the New York Times:

It was appalling when the House majority leader threatened political retribution against judges who did not toe his extremist political line. But when a second important Republican stands up and excuses murderous violence against judges as an understandable reaction to their decisions, then it is time to get really scared.

It happened on Monday, in a moment that was horrifying even by the rock-bottom standards of the campaign that Republican zealots are conducting against the nation’s judiciary. Senator John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, rose in the chamber and dared to argue that recent courthouse violence might be explained by distress about judges who “are making political decisions yet are unaccountable to the public.” The frustration “builds up and builds up to the point where some people engage in” violence, said Mr. Cornyn, a former member of the Texas Supreme Court who is on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which supposedly protects the Constitution and its guarantee of an independent judiciary.

Listeners could only cringe at the events behind Mr. Cornyn’s fulminating: an Atlanta judge was murdered in his courtroom by a career criminal who wanted only to shoot his way out of a trial, and a Chicago judge’s mother and husband were executed by a deranged man who was furious that she had dismissed a wild lawsuit. It was sickening that an elected official would publicly offer these sociopaths as examples of any democratic value, let alone as holders of legitimate concerns about the judiciary.

This is confusing on a lot of different levels, not the least of which is that they’re encouraging judges on one hand to be “activists” in the Schiavo case (telling them to do what’s moral, not necessarily what’s written into law), while at the same time suggesting that violent crimes “activist judges” are understandable… One wonders if Cornyn and DeLay really feel that the murder of federal judges is ever justified.

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  1. dorothy
    Posted April 8, 2005 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    these guys are scary. i wonder what kind of people voted them in—no i don’t, some of their clones live near me. i just read “What’s the Matter with Kansas,” on your recommendation and i understand exactly what happened. the sad part is i have in-laws like this who vote against their own interests and follow bush like lobotomized sheep.they deserve what they get, but I don’t.

  2. chris
    Posted April 8, 2005 at 2:54 pm | Permalink


    I know how you feel. I keep saying in my mother’s antiquated Lutheran Wisconsin farmer mindset…”They made their bed now let them sleep in it.”. But I am a little nervous because I think that their bedroom might be in my house.

    I mean this is SO TOTALLY OUT OF CONTROL it boggles my mind.

    AND there is a Walmart opening in Vermont.

  3. trusty getto
    Posted April 9, 2005 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

    Isn’t all the rhetoric really calculated to move us further toward an environment in which conservative judges are shoo-ins, the judiciary (and by extention the Constitution) is marginalized, and the rights of individuals to access our courts is given lip service only? I’m not sure they think this is an issue all by itself so much as a good way to move along efforts to rid the country of an independent judiciary, the last bastion of checks and balances now that one party controls both the legislature and the executive.

  4. Posted April 9, 2005 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

    There’s a letter to the editor in the aa news this past week, summarizing the whole semantics game they’re now playing. Here’s a clip:

    “This case proved beyond doubt that we have one branch significantly stronger than the other two combined. Our judicial branch of government thwarted the specific directive of the administrative and legislative branches to reopen the Schiavo case for review.”

    …Basically just referring to the system of checks and balances we’ve always had as somehow wrong, because one branch can negate another, which they don’t approve of if the final outcome is different than they’d hoped it would be (if, for example, Bush had gotten his way, they certainly wouldn’t be complaining that the executive branch was becoming too powerful).

    It’s funny, to me, because they’re essentially saying that they think it’s unjust for justice to be justly served.

  5. Posted April 10, 2005 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    1) John Cornyn.

    2)(protophase) John Connyr.

    3) John Conyers.

    Draw your own conclusion, as I have none.

  6. Posted April 13, 2005 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    Brett – Are you comparing the Texas Republican to my very own Detroit Democrat? If so, why?

    And why wouldn’t they advocate murdering judges when they certainly don’t have a problem with nutbags who kill doctors because they legally perform abortions?

  7. Posted April 13, 2005 at 5:46 pm | Permalink


    I said i had no conclusion. The main reason I felt the loose similarity betwixt their names is so strange, is due to the fact they’re polar opposites philosophically.

  8. Posted April 14, 2005 at 7:43 am | Permalink

    Whew! I was scared you were dissing my guy. ;-)

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