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Sandra Day O'Connor unloads on the wingers

She’s not mincing words. NPR’s Nina Totenberg covered a talk by former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor at Georgetown University, and she didn’t hold back on the state of politics in this country and its effect on the high court.

In an unusually forceful and forthright speech, O’Connor said that attacks on the judiciary by some Republican leaders pose a direct threat to our constitutional freedoms. O’Connor began by conceding that courts do have the power to make presidents or the Congress or governors, as she put it “really, really angry.” But, she continued, if we don’t make them mad some of the time we probably aren’t doing our jobs as judges, and our effectiveness, she said, is premised on the notion that we won’t be subject to retaliation for our judicial acts. The nation’s founders wrote repeatedly, she said, that without an independent judiciary to protect individual rights from the other branches of government those rights and privileges would amount to nothing. But, said O’Connor, as the founding fathers knew statutes and constitutions don’t protect judicial independence, people do.

And then she took aim at former House GOP leader Tom DeLay. She didn’t name him, but she quoted his attacks on the courts at a meeting of the conservative Christian group Justice Sunday last year when DeLay took out after the courts for rulings on abortions, prayer and the Terri Schiavo case. This, said O’Connor, was after the federal courts had applied Congress’ onetime only statute about Schiavo as it was written. Not, said O’Connor, as the congressman might have wished it were written. This response to this flagrant display of judicial restraint, said O’Connor, her voice dripping with sarcasm, was that the congressman blasted the courts.

It gets worse, she said, noting that death threats against judges are increasing. It doesn’t help, she said, when a high-profile senator suggests there may be a connection between violence against judges and decisions that the senator disagrees with. She didn’t name him, but it was Texas senator John Cornyn who made that statement, after a Georgia judge was murdered in the courtroom and the family of a federal judge in Illinois murdered in the judge’s home.

What do you think the Freepi had to say?

Actual Freeper Quotes™

“Now she can let her liberal colors show.”

“I am sure glad that old bitch is off the Court now!”

“Now if only we could get that man Ruth B. Ginsberg to retire.”

“If the justices did what they were supposed to do instead of making up law out of thin air, there would be no criticism. Go away, Sandra. You were a big disappointment.”

“I think what dear Sandra meant to say is that republican attacks on the Court make it much less likely that liberals will be able to make it up as they go along.”

“Hey Sandy! You’re useless and forgotten. Go fade away now.”

“Before dismissing her opinion altogether, does this mean that she endorses the pracice of “penumbras” and other forms of legislation from the bench? How is this reconciled with the concept of “Constitution Freedoms”?”

“Great, now we’re going to have to listen to President Reagan’s biggest mistake go around flapping her gums for media attention every other week. Where’s John Riggins when you really need him.”

“Now it’s just a long, drawn out affair waiting to see if Ginsburg or Stevens (or either) can just hold on, somehow keep breathing for THREE – pant pant – THREE more years. Or 2 1/2, so anyone Bush nominates can be dragged out then rejected in the hope that a dimwit gets somehow elected.”

“Oh God.. another Jimmy Carter. It would be nice if people understood when to disappear gracefully into the sunset. She had her chance, now let go please :)”

“She’s 100% right. A lot of the accusations, rhetoric, and proposals directed against judges have been over-the-top.”

“Yes. How dare the people (directly or through their elected representatives) criticize the courts. Freedom can only be preserved through unquestioning deference and obedience to nine ex-lawyers. I hope I don’t need to mention the above is sarcasm”

“Stick with the United States Constitution and you won’t have anything to worry about Sandra. Dig up some reference to European law and expect to be criticized.”

“We can criticize Congress, the IRS, the White House, the bureaucracy… but not the Supreme Court? Does she think she is a god or what?”

“Breyer tried the same song and dance. Criticizing their poor performance somehow destroys all that is America. They can both kiss my free citizen ass.”

“There is a lot of class being displayed on this thread.”

“”Hey, loosen up, Sandy baby!””

“This thread is a perfect illustration of the problem. Disagree with Justice O’Connor, or any other Supreme Court justice, or even all nine if you like. That’s not the problem. J. O’Connor’s complaint was the rhetoric and the personal attacks, like Tom DeLay’s complaint that the Supreme Court was a bunch of judicial activists when they slavishly applied the Schaivo statute as written, or the Senator who said that the judges were opening themselves up for assasination by their rulings. Those kinds of remarks are irresponsible and unjustifiable.”

“Go have another gin and tonic Sandra and shut up, you are no longer relevant.”

“The “problem” of free speech? O’Connor was one of the worst justices in the history of the SCOTUS. She deserves no respect.”

“To libs such as O’Connor, protests by conservatives are hate speech and must not be tolerated. Remember their whining when we used our free speech rights to destroy Dixie Chicks CDs? Why, that was downright EEEEVIL!”

“I just listened to the clip and SDO’s criticisms were directed toward Tom DeLay and John Cornyn. What tripe! Thank God that lib lover is retired!”

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding