The Religious Right’s definition of “activist judges.”

Cynthia Tucker has an article in the Baltimore Sun on what the Religious Right mean when they complain about those “activist judges” and what they aim to do about it:

Ultraconservatives want you to believe the term “activist judge” applies to a group of determined liberals whose rulings have overturned historic precedent, undermined morality and defied common sense. But the controversy that erupted around Mrs. Schiavo, who died Thursday, ought to remind us once and for all what “activist judge” really means: one whose rulings dissatisfy a right-wing political constituency.

You’ll soon hear the term “activist judge” often as President Bush nominates justices to the U.S. Supreme Court. The president could end up appointing as many as four.

With so many likely vacancies, ultraconservatives see an opportunity to drive from the bench any semblance of fealty to the law or the U.S. Constitution. They claim that judges have become the tool of an outlandish liberal fringe that has violated the graves of the Founding Fathers. When right-wing talk-show hosts and U.S. senators denounce judicial activism, they conjure up images of jurists who terrorize the God-fearing, coddle criminals and would outlaw the Bible.

The next time you hear those claims, think of Judge Greer. He is among the targets of ultraconservative ire. For that matter, think of the Supreme Court – hardly a bastion of liberalism. Its justices declined to intervene in the Schiavo case because they could find no legitimate reason to do so.

Something I didn’t know previously that I learned in this column was the fact that Judge Greer’s decision was so unpopular with his Southern Baptist church’s pastor that he was “deinvited” from attending services. Apparently his pastor felt that Judge Greer should have decided not to uphold the law as is his sworn duty and instead base his decision on what the church says is right. Getting judges who will do that into place is going to be the goal of the far right over the next few years.

13 thoughts on “The Religious Right’s definition of “activist judges.”

  1. Rather than listen to either side about judicial nominations, look to the ABA recommendations on the nominee.  If the ABA deems the nominee worthy, there is no real grounds for not appointing the man or woman to the bench.

  2. I’ve read news accounts of Judge Greer’s “de-invitation,” too (no links offhand, though).

    Frankly, that’s their prerogative.  I think it’s both short-sighted and un-Christian of them to do so, of course—not because of ideology, but because Christ opened his table to all *regardless* of ideology.

    That said, if a church wants to dissociate themselves from someone who they feel has seriously violated one of their tenets, even if the law required them to do so, that’s between them and their members.  Sad, but true (and I say that as someone who thinks Judge Greer’s decision was the right one).

    I have to wonder, though.  There’s been a long theme of “OMG, the Next President is going to pack half the Supreme Court with his party lackeys, OMG!” for, like, multiple presidents now (folks issued dire prophecies about it in Clinton’s time, too, as well as Bush’s first term).  Hasn’t happened. Granted, our current Chief Justice looks to be retiring from the bench soon—but I suspect that most of the folks up there on the bench are none too happy with the current President over various judicial shenanigans (this case, as well as various efforts to remove certain laws from judicial oversight), and will not be as inclined to retire in the next 3 years as folks expected.

  3. Judge Greer parts ways with his church on pastor’s advice

    By Times Staff
    Published March 22, 2005

    CLEARWATER – Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge George Greer left his church last week after the pastor wrote him a letter suggesting “it might be easier for all of us” if he leave.

    Greer, whose orders on the Terri Schiavo case have brought him criticism, is a Southern Baptist who attended Calvary Baptist Church in Clearwater.

    Though he had other unrelated problems with the church, Greer’s attendance faltered after a Baptist publication the church supported criticized his decisions in the Schiavo case. He stopped his donations to the church, but remained a member. He briefly discussed his relationship with the church in a March 6 St. Petersburg Times article.

    Four days later, Calvary Pastor William Rice wrote Greer a letter: “I am not asking you to do this, but since you have taken the initiative of withdrawal, and since your connection with Calvary continues to be a point of concern, it would seem the logical and, I would say, biblical course.”

    Rice’s letter became public when he sent a copy to the Clearwater courthouse. Rice also said the church supports keeping Schiavo alive, though he said he was “truly saddened and embarrassed by the level of harassment and vitriolic nature of so many comments that purportedly come from people of faith.”

    Rice, who has been pastor at the church for five months, added: “But you must know that in all likelihood it is this case which will define your career and this case that you will remember in the waning days of life. I hope you can find a way to side with the angels and become an answer to the prayers of thousands.”

    Greer responded with a letter severing his relationship with the church.

  4. Yes this is actually the final nail in the coffin of the USA, WHEN these lunatics accomplish this.
    I say WHEN because apparently there is no stopping them at this point.
    We are currently 2 Supreme Court Justices & 1 hail Mary from a Christian Theocracy right now, sad thing is, once we step over to the “Dark Side” and 2+ more Fundy Nutjobs get seated on the SCOTUS they will hold a majority, and will do so for many many years to come long after the Lunatic in Chief leaves office.
    On the very day that happens the wheels will start spinning in the Christian Coalition camp to completely re-write the Constitution with carte blanche, all but running the original through the shredder.

    These lunatics have fought for this moment for over 25 years, they have placed Fundy Nutjobs in as many positions of power as possible, from Dog catcher, to school board, to Governor, to Senator, to Congress, to President and everything in between, making decisions based solely on Biblical Bullshit.
    They dont even try to hide it anymore, they are blatant and bold, even proud & boisterous about it.
    The Wall between Church & State has been dismantled brick by brick to the point now where there are so many gaps & low spots in it that breaching it is common place and expected.

    I personally dont have much confidence in the American Public to stand up and revolt against this insanity, because that is exactly what it is going to take at this point, a full blown revolution.

    These nuts will destroy this country from the inside out, they have already divided the country to the point where only the Civil War surpasses it. The USA could easily sink to a mere shell of its former self in under a decade of Theocratic rule.
    Once Fundamentalist Christians (which BTW are a MINORITY in this country) gain so much power in every section of Government we lose the checks & balances to control the insanity, they will push every button, pull every lever, & LIE LIE LIE when they see they have reached the point where there is no opposition they WILL take total Dominion over this country.
    Basically they will have completed a semi-bloodless coup where 60-70 Million religious zealots have successfully taken over the country, what can you say other than good job.

    He outlined a long-range program to gain nothing short of control of the government of the United States. The goal was to control the country by the year 2000. (Done)
    Robertson’s plan to take over every office in the United States was not as hair-brained as one would imagine. According to Tim LaHaye (co-author of the Left Behind series of novels) who appeared on Robertson’s show and outlined the plan, there were 110,000 fundamentalist churches in America. If each church sponsored one candidate for office, the Robertson faction would control every elective office in the U.S. since there were only 97,000 offices.

    Before total power could be accomplished, however, the Robertson faction had to gain control of the Republican Party. (DONE) Once the Republican Party was conquered, and it would be, Robertson would and did use millions of dollars donated to the cause by Robertson’s 700 Club viewers, to pour funds into congressional campaigns.(Done)

    First, Americans must be ruled by “godly

  5. If it calms any fears my US History professor believes the liberals will have the government back in 20 years because apparently popular political belief in this country runs in 50 year cycles.  I personally think you all don’t have that much to worry about.  Liberal professors are rampant in the education system and you all have an equally, if not more so, strong grip on the media.  It’s only a matter of time, about 20 years coincidentally I would say.  Also coincidentally by then I will be out of seminary and will have established myself as a voice of practical reason in the faith encouraging political apathy and scriptural obedience.  Which would you rather deal with, my post on Theocracy or a religious tyranny?

  6. This country could be in complete ruins in 20 years of pure insanity like we are dealing with currently, IF we survive it could take at least 20 more years to recover from it.

    and NO liberals/Democrats do NOT have any hold on the Media.
    The so called “Liberal Media” went out back in the 50s.

    There are 5 people that completely OWN all media outlets in this country, and every one of them are staunch far Reich wing republicans.
    Can you even imagine what the press would be doing to say Clinton if he had pulled even 1/2 of the bullshit Dubya Christ has?  LOL paahhleease, the man would have been up for impeachment continuously then topped off with War Crime tribunal all detailed 24/7 in the news, every station every mag every paper.

    Dubya?  Nuttin to see here move along now.

  7. Liberal professors are rampant in the education system and you all have an equally, if not more so, strong grip on the media.

    Theo, I can’t speak for “the education system” but I can assure you that there’s a pretty good mix of liberal/conservative professors at the state university where I work.  As a computer support guy I frequent their offices and, let’s just say, one’s choice of office decoration makes it plain where sympathies lie.  This is a good thing because it would bother me if students weren’t exposed to differing points of view.

    As for the press, there are media outlets for every taste and unfortunately most people don’t make a practice of reading outside their preferences. 

    Conservatism means fiscal responsibility and general resistance to extremism or rapid change – both of which equal “stability.”  Being a Republican means those things plus a federalist point of view – again, a stable arrangement.  (Did anyone save any of Dwight Eisenhower’s DNA?  We could sure use it now, or its functional equivalent.)

    Unfortunately the Republican party today has been hijacked by alien brain slugs or something.  The explanation might lie in the philosophy of Leo Strauss, who seems to be known as “the father of conservatism” but is more like the father of neo-conservatism.  What a world of difference…

  8. Did anyone save any of Dwight Eisenhower’s DNA?  We could sure use it now, or its functional equivalent.

    DoF, you’re not the only one nostalgic for the days when the Republicans, if perhaps not as enlightened about social issues as the Democrats, at least had personal integrity and hadn’t sold out to the military-industrial complex (something DDE warned us about, which doesn’t bother Republicans nowadays).

    Although I campaigned for Adlai Stevenson (okay- I was six and just tagging along), I would take Eisenhower over any Republican President since then- and over a few of the Democrats too…

  9. zilch:

    Could you forward me my check from the military and industrial complex?  I have not received my check at the time of this post.

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