More on judicial independence
.....we see the Founders' ideals quite clearly, among many places, in the Establishment Clause within the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. This of course was the clause that I determined the school board had violated in the Kitzmiller v. Dover case. While legal scholars will continue to debate the appropriate application of that clause to particular facts in individual cases, this much is very clear. The Founders believed that true religion was not something handed down by a church or contained in a Bible, but was to be found through free, rational inquiry. At bottom then, this core set of beliefs led the Founders, who constantly engaged and questioned things, to secure their idea of religious freedom by barring any alliance between church and state. (emphasis added)
And while speaking those words, Judge Jones was standing behind a lectern that had the college seal in front. The college seal -- designed by the founding fathers who started the college -- has a picture of an open bible and the Latin college motto which means, "Religion and learning, the bulwark of liberty."
I guess that Judge Jones decided that his above statement went over like a lead balloon.
Judge Jones' paranoid claims that he is a victim of threats to judicial independence trivialize the real threats to judicial independence. One of these real threats is so-called "jurisdiction stripping" -- legislative acts which attempt to remove the powers of the courts to hear certain kinds of cases. I consider federal court jurisdiction over all constitutional cases to be one of the foundations of our systems of checks and balances. The counterbalances of this judicial power are the power of Congress and the states to amend the Constitution and -- in extreme cases -- the power of Congress to impeach judges and remove them from office. Though the Constitution expressly gives Congress the power to limit the appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, IMO there is nothing in the Constitution that explicitly or implicitly gives Congress the power to limit the jurisdiction of the lower federal courts, though it is widely believed that Congress has such power. A lot of judges and other public officials just make up rules that have no basis in the letter or the spirit of the Constitution.
Labels: Judicial independence