Perhaps it is just me, but it seems as if the Republican Party has begun to take a very odd turn.
The day Terri Schiavo died, House Majority Leader Thomas DeLay (R-Texas) said, “The time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior.”
Although he later apologized when many Americans found his statement distasteful, he still remains convinced that America is under siege from a “judiciary run amok.”
Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) is claiming that Democrats are against “people of faith” because they did not vote to confirm 10 out of President Bush’s 214 nominees for the judiciary.
To put the views of these men in perspective, in an interview earlier this week, DeLay also said, “The reason we had a right to privacy is because Congress didn’t stop (the judiciary).”
This was certainly a surprise to me. It is true that there is no amendment in the Constitution that says that there is a right to privacy.
At least, that would be the case if you ignored the Fourth Amendment, which tells us “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated.”
However, it is not the purpose of the Constitution to list all of a person’s rights.
The Ninth Amendment notes, “the enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”
Americans do not have rights because they are listed in the Constitution; Americans have rights because, like all people, “they are endowed with certain unalienable rights from their Creator.”
If DeLay is in error, he is certainly not the only Republican. Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Penn.), a possible candidate for the presidency, also feels that there is no constitutional right to privacy.
Similarly, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) claims the courts have conducted a methodical “assault on religion” for decades.
This represents a new and disturbing change in American politics.
Based on these actions, we are left with two likely conclusions. The first is that many important people in the Republican party do not understand the Constitution narrowly lists the rights of the government to make laws, not all the rights and priveleges of individuals.
The second is that these representatives and senators do understand how the Constitution works, but are choosing to ignore it for their own political gain.
I will let you decide which you find to be more disturbing.
It is clear that the problem these politicians have is not that the courts are disobeying the Constitution and American law, but rather that the courts aren’t supporting their views.
Take, for instance, the Schiavo case.
Given that every single judge who ruled on the case sided with Terri’s husband Michael, it seems logical to conclude that the courts found him legally correct.
If this is the case, wasn’t DeLay’s problem that the courts weren’t helping him in getting the results he sought (and not that they had committed some kind of legal error)?
It is true that some courts have, in recent years, made decisions that have been unpopular with the majority of Americans.
I was among those who were surprised when the Ninth Circuit Federal Court declared being made to say the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools was unconstitutional.
But this decision was later overruled by a superior court, proving that the system of checks and balances established in the Constitution still works.
With regard to those infamous “activist judges” and their attempts to ram same-sex marriages down the throats of Americans, it is worth noting that the Oregon Supreme Court declared same-sex marriage licenses issued by a county in Oregon invalid.
Strangely, the people who have been protesting activist judges elsewhere in America are silent when an activist court makes a decision they agree with.
It is clear that what men and women like DeLay mean to say is that the courts are not siding with Republicans, not that the judiciary is disobeying the Constitution.
And when they do not get judges who rule what they want, they raise threats of impeachment or of cutting funding for courts that do obey their whim.
All Americans, whatever their affiliation, should be worried about this. America’s system of checks and balances has been a model for the constitutions of nations across the globe.
It would be a shame to see it destroyed because of paranoid delusions about attacks upon organized religion.