And the Verdict on Justice
Kennedy Is: Guilty
The Washington Post
By Dana Milbank
Saturday, April 9, 2005; Page A03
Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy is a fairly
accomplished jurist, but he might want to get himself a good
lawyer -- and perhaps a few more bodyguards.
Conservative leaders meeting in Washington yesterday for a
discussion of "Remedies to Judicial Tyranny" decided that
Kennedy, a Ronald Reagan appointee, should be impeached, or
Phyllis Schlafly, doyenne of American conservatism, said
Kennedy's opinion forbidding capital punishment for juveniles "is
a good ground of impeachment." To cheers and applause from those
gathered at a downtown Marriott for a conference on "Confronting
the Judicial War on Faith," Schlafly said that Kennedy had not
met the "good behavior" requirement for office and that "Congress
ought to talk about impeachment."
Next, Michael P. Farris, chairman of the Home School Legal
Defense Association, said Kennedy "should be the poster boy for
impeachment" for citing international norms in his opinions. "If
our congressmen and senators do not have the courage to impeach
and remove from office Justice Kennedy, they ought to be
impeached as well."
Not to be outdone, lawyer-author Edwin Vieira told the
gathering that Kennedy should be impeached because his
philosophy, evidenced in his opinion striking down an anti-sodomy
statute, "upholds Marxist, Leninist, satanic principles drawn
from foreign law."
Ominously, Vieira continued by saying his "bottom line" for
dealing with the Supreme Court comes from Joseph Stalin. "He had
a slogan, and it worked very well for him, whenever he ran into
difficulty: 'no man, no problem,' " Vieira said.
The full Stalin quote, for those who don't recognize it, is
"Death solves all problems: no man, no problem." Presumably,
Vieira had in mind something less extreme than Stalin did and was
not actually advocating violence. But then, these are scary times
for the judiciary. An anti-judge furor may help confirm President
Bush's judicial nominees, but it also has the potential to turn
A judge in Atlanta and the husband and mother of a judge in
Chicago were murdered in recent weeks. After federal courts
spurned a request from Congress to revisit the Terri Schiavo
case, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) said that "the
time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for
their behavior." Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) mused about how a
perception that judges are making political decisions could lead
people to "engage in violence."
"The people who have been speaking out on this, like Tom DeLay
and Senator Cornyn, need to be backed up," Schlafly said to
applause yesterday. One worker at the event wore a sticker
declaring "Hooray for DeLay."
The conference was organized during the height of the Schiavo
controversy by a new group, the Judeo-Christian Council for
Constitutional Restoration. This was no collection of fringe
characters. The two-day program listed two House members; aides
to two senators; representatives from the Family Research Council
and Concerned Women for America; conservative activists Alan
Keyes and Morton C. Blackwell; the lawyer for Terri Schiavo's
parents; Alabama's "Ten Commandments" judge, Roy Moore; and
DeLay, who canceled to attend the pope's funeral.
The Schlafly session's moderator, Richard Lessner of the
American Conservative Union, opened the discussion by decrying a
"radical secularist relativist judiciary." It turned more harsh
Schlafly called for passage of a quartet of bills in Congress
that would remove courts' power to review religious displays, the
Pledge of Allegiance, same-sex marriage and the Boy Scouts. Her
speech brought a subtle change in the argument against the courts
from emphasizing "activist" judges -- it was, after all, inaction
by federal judges that doomed Schiavo -- to "supremacist" judges.
"The Constitution is not what the Supreme Court says it is,"
Former representative William Dannemeyer (R-Calif.) followed
Schlafly, saying the country's "principal problem" is not Iraq or
the federal budget but whether "we as a people acknowledge that
Farris then told the crowd he is "sick and tired of having to
lobby people I helped get elected." A better-educated citizenry,
he said, would know that "Medicare is a bad idea" and that
"Social Security is a horrible idea when run by the government."
Farris said he would block judicial power by abolishing the
concept of binding judicial precedents, by allowing Congress to
vacate court decisions, and by impeaching judges such as Kennedy,
who seems to have replaced Justice David H. Souter as the target
of conservative ire. "If about 40 of them get impeached, suddenly
a lot of these guys would be retiring," he said.
Vieira, a constitutional lawyer who wrote "How to Dethrone the
Imperial Judiciary," escalated the charges, saying a Politburo of
"five people on the Supreme Court" has a "revolutionary agenda"
rooted in foreign law and situational ethics. Vieira, his
eyeglasses strapped to his head with black elastic, decried the
"primordial illogic" of the courts.
Invoking Stalin, Vieira delivered the "no man, no problem"
line twice for emphasis. "This is not a structural problem we
have; this is a problem of personnel," he said. "We are in this
mess because we have the wrong people as judges."
A court spokeswoman declined to comment.