Impeaching The Supreme Court?
SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION
II, Section 4
Section 4. The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed
from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.
Our illustrious Forefathers saw the need to make available, the removal from office provision. This section of the Constitution provides for the removal of the President, Vice President and All Civil Officers of the United States. This includes Supreme Court Justices. Why? There were several reasons for this provision.
In his book Men in Black, Mark R. Levin cites several examples of people who have served as Supreme Court Justices. Several were found to be mentally deranged. One killed a man in a duel before his appointment. Serious health conditions plagued several Justices. Some were very prejudiced against certain races. At least one was known to be a Communist sympathizer. Delusions and paranoia caused some to develop strange behavior patterns while serving as Supreme Court Justices. The list goes on even to our time. Would you say the Supreme Court is ruling clearly and decisively today? Will you see consistent 9-0 votes showing a unified majority? Will you see all decisions (where the Constitution is concerned) aligned accurately by the intended constitutional design?
Can these radical runaway Justices be impeached when necessary? Yes they can, but, there are very few in the House and Senate that have the stomach for this serious consideration. Has it happened before? Yes!
Read the following article and see what some have faced in this procedure and perhaps why some are afraid to inaugurate this proceeding!
Supreme Court and the Politics of Impeachment
On Principle, v4n4
by: Matthew J. Franck
In American politics, once-dormant issues, when they re-emerge into public view, seem often to do so in clusters of related events. So, in 1996, talk of impeachment has been in the air on three separate occasions, once involving the executive branch and twice involving the judiciary. First it was Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, threatened in early January with the prospect of impeachment proceedings in the House by Republican Congressmen Gerald Solomon (NY) and Christopher Cox (CA) for the allegedly unconstitutional means by which he had avoided a government default on the national debt during the protracted struggle between the Clinton administration and Congress over the budget earlier in the winter.
Next it was Judge Harold Baer, Jr., of the U.S. District Court in New York City, who in late January held the fruits of a car search (80 pounds of narcotics) inadmissible because, in the neighborhood of New York where the search took place, it was rational behavior for citizens to run from police, leaving no "reasonable suspicion" that a criminal act had been committed. Before long, both Speaker Gingrich and Senator Dole suggested that Judge Baer be impeached, and there was even an initial statement from the White House spokesman that the president might seek Baer’s resignation. In early April, Baer reversed his earlier ruling, and that seemed to be the end of that.
Finally, following the Supreme Court’s Evans v. Romer decision in May, striking down an amendment to the Colorado constitution that prohibited legislation advantaging homosexuals, Will Perkins of Colorado for Family Values (a group that had pushed for passage of the overturned Amendment 2) raised the possibility of a popular campaign to impeach all six justices in the Evans majority. There has been no movement on this front so far, but the liberalism of the federal judiciary continues to be an issue in this year’s presidential campaign.
There has probably not been so much talk of impeachment since the House Judiciary Committee voted in 1974 on articles of impeachment against President Nixon. And not since 1970, when Congressman Gerald Ford introduced a resolution (co-sponsored by over 100 other members of the House) calling for the impeachment of Justice William O. Douglas, has there been such open discussion by responsible political leaders of the prospect of impeaching federal judges for the views they express from the bench.
What is noteworthy this time around is the willingness of federal judges themselves to enter into the debate over the propriety of impeaching them for the quality of their work. In late March, the chief judge of the Second Circuit and his three predecessors defended Judge Baer from the "extraordinary intimidation" of the Clinton administration (though its call for his resignation had been quickly abandoned) and responded to Gingrich and Dole by stating flatly that "a ruling in a contested case cannot remotely be considered a ground for impeachment."
But the high point in the judiciary’s response was reached on April 9, when Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist delivered a speech at American University’s Washington College of Law. Rehnquist spoke circumspectly, taking up the subject of impeachment only in the second half of his speech, and never alluding even remotely to the recent remarks made in the public arena about Judge Baer (this before the Evans decision). Resorting to history to support an independent judiciary, the Chief Justice grounded an argument for the narrowest possible reading of Congress’s impeachment power on the story of Justice Samuel Chase, impeached by the House but acquitted by the Senate in 1805. Rehnquist had told this tale before, in his book Grand Inquests: The Historic Impeachments of Justice Samuel Chase and President Andrew Johnson (Wm. Morrow, 1992).
In his April 9 speech, the Chief Justice rightly notes that the Constitution employs ambiguous language regarding exactly how independent the federal judiciary is to be. Article III, rather than referring to a life tenure for judges, says that they shall serve "during good Behaviour." And according to Article II, executive and judicial officers are removable on grounds of "Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors." As Rehnquist describes the interpretive problem: "The term ’high crimes and misdemeanors’ was sufficiently amorphous to leave open the possibility that a federal judge could be removed from office, not only for conduct that was criminal, but for rulings from the bench that seemed flagrantly wrong."
According to the Chief Justice, the Chase trial of 1805 "in effect resolved this question," giving "the assurance to federal judges that their judicial acts— their rulings from the bench— would not be a basis for removal from office by impeachment and conviction." In his 1992 book, Rehnquist concludes even more forcefully that "no matter how angry or frustrated either of the other branches may be by the action of the Supreme Court, removal of individual members of the Court because of their judicial philosophy is not permissible."
Rehnquist even asserts in his speech that all impeachment convictions since the Chase trial have been for criminal behavior, which is simply untrue. But more important is his position that "judicial philosophy" can form no grounds for impeachment and removal, for it might well be argued that non-criminal grounds only of a narrower sort than this are acceptable. It is true that no judge has ever been removed because of his "judicial philosophy." But it is not true that the trial of Samuel Chase "resolved [the] question" whether such grounds are acceptable ones.
Chase, an ardent Federalist, was impeached by the Jeffersonian Republicans in the House of Representatives for behavior while presiding over circuit court proceedings that, depending on one’s point of view even today, can be called either mildly intemperate or highly improper. Following a Senate trial in which arguments at both extremes were made regarding the impeachment power— the view that any grounds for removal by Congress are permissible vying with the position that only indictable crimes are impeachable— Chase was acquitted on all charges, though on three of the eight counts a majority of the Senate voted to convict (falling short of the two-thirds vote required).
Chase’s acquittal established no firm precedent for the action of future Congresses. Studies as old as Henry Adams’s History of the Jefferson years and as recent as Professor Eleanore Bushnell’s 1992 work on impeachment, Crimes, Follies, and Misfortunes: The Federal Impeachment Trials, have concluded that, "no point was decided" regarding "impeachment as a principle of law" and that the constitutional issues "were raised but not settled."
Even if the Senate in 1805 had been more mindful of guiding the future, today’s Congress would not be bound by its action or its reasoning in the same way that courts of law are bound by precedent. No Congress’s actions, other than in the form of a ratified constitutional amendment, can bind those of a future Congress. And although the Senate sits as a court during impeachment trials, it is not a court, but a political body deliberating on what are properly considered political offenses. Both houses, in prosecuting and trying, must reach their own conclusions in any new case regarding what are impeachable violations of an officer’s duties. The past can be intrusive, but each impeachment case is likely to be sui generis (unique) in decisive respects.
If the "precedent" of the Chase trial is not what Chief Justice Rehnquist makes it out to be, the question remains an open one whether the recent calls for impeachment of federal judges are beyond the pale of what the Constitution allows. And if not to the Chase trial, where else should we look for enlightenment?
A good place to start, as with so many things, would be the Federalist Papers. As I have pointed out in my recent book Against the Imperial Judiciary, Alexander Hamilton took pains to identify the congressional impeachment power as an appropriate remedy for the abuse of the judiciary’s independent authority. While he is remembered for explaining the Supreme Court’s power to declare some laws unconstitutional, it is commonly overlooked that he regarded impeachment as a significant check on this power: "There never can be danger that the judges, by a series of deliberate usurpations on the authority of the legislature, would hazard the united resentment of the body entrusted with it, while this body was possessed of the means of punishing their presumption by degrading them from their stations." Elsewhere, speaking more generally of the impeachment power’s use against officers of both the executive and judicial branches, Hamilton referred to it as "a method of NATIONAL INQUEST into the conduct of public men" guilty of "the abuse or violation of some public trust," noting that such abuses "may with peculiar propriety be denominated POLITICAL, as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself" (Federalist No. 65).
Subsequent commentators on the impeachment power, even in the years following the Chase trial, took a similar view of its appropriately political uses. Justice Joseph Story, for instance, in his 1833 Commentaries on the Constitution, said that the power applies to "what are aptly termed, political offences, growing out of personal misconduct, or gross neglect, or usurpation, or habitual disregard of the public interests, in the discharge of the duties of political office." Recognizing the impossibility of fixing the definition of "high crimes and misdemeanors" with any permanence or precision, he urged that these political offenses "must be examined upon very broad and comprehensive principles of public policy and duty." And since the independence of the federal judiciary must not be permitted to become "irresponsibility," Story pointedly remarked that "for any corrupt violation or omission of the high trusts confided to the judges, they are liable to be impeached."
Neither Story nor Hamilton thought the House and Senate could properly impeach and remove an executive or judicial officer for purely partisan reasons—though it goes without saying that should such a removal occur, there is no tribunal above the Senate to which a victim of such partisanship could appeal. But somewhere between nakedly partisan grounds and garden-variety criminality are high and proper political reasons for impeachment, both of judges and of presidents and their subordinates. We should remember that the framers introduced checks and balances to enable each branch of government to defend itself against "encroachments" on its authority by the others. Aside from amending the Constitution, the checks that may be exerted against the Supreme Court’s power of judicial review are few and mostly indirect. Even legislative regulation of the Court’s appellate jurisdiction, a power which is itself too seldom used on constitutional matters, is not so direct and forceful an expression of Congress’s equal right to expound the Constitution as is the impeachment power.
One of the most common criticisms of the Supreme Court is that the justices frequently act more like legislators than like judges in constitutional cases. Chief Justice Rehnquist himself has often— and rightly— been among those accusing majorities on the Court of such usurpation of congressional and state legislative authority. Thus if we follow the principles of Hamilton and Story, Congress could properly seek the removal of several members of the current Court. Rehnquist’s distortion of the historic import of Samuel Chase’s acquittal, whether willful or not, is understandable, for "the interest of the man" naturally comes to be "connected with the constitutional rights of the place" (Federalist No. 51) Given his own no doubt painful awareness that several of his colleagues routinely vote to usurp the authority of other institutions, we might even say that the Chief Justice spoke out of a high-minded, far-sighted concern to shield the independence of the judiciary from a power that might be corruptly used against good (but unpopular) judges as well as bad ones. But he leaves us little recourse, for while he notes the freedom of all citizens to "criticize" the work of the Court, everyone knows how little effect such criticism has on its members’ behavior.
It is an ancient maxim in law and politics that the potential for the abuse of a power is no argument against its use. Certainly this is true of judicial review itself, the most frequently abused power in American politics today. And if the Constitution’s framers and authoritative early commentators regarded the impeachment power as perhaps the most decisive available response to judicial imperialism, it is past time to consider following their wise counsel. Never mind Judge Baer in New York; he is small fry, and even his absurd initial ruling that caused such controversy can reasonably be traced to prior precedents of the Supreme Court. The latter is the level of the federal courts where the problem lies and the solution should be attempted. The press and the left (or do I repeat myself?) will howl, but why not begin with one or more of the justices in the Evans majority, as Colorado’s Will Perkins suggests? Given the obvious pattern of judicial review run amok that m ay be seen in this and like cases (such as the 1992 Casey abortion ruling), Congress is well-positioned under the Constitution to do itself, the people and legislatures of the various states, and the Constitution itself, a great service. With due caution and care to avoid the lowest and shrillest partisanship to which congressmen are wont, and to preserve the proper but limited scope of judicial independence, an impeachment trial of a Supreme Court justice for a pattern of voting to undermine the Constitution can become, not only the "national inquest" of which Hamilton spoke, but a great national seminar on the principles of our enduring charter of government.
Matthew J. Franck teaches political science at Radford University, in Virginia, and is author of Against the Imperial Judiciary: The Supreme Court vs. the Sovereignty of the People (University Press of Kansas,
the highlighted portions of the preceding article. More text could be
but the major point of impeachment possibilities, does exist! In his book
Men in Black Author Mark R. Levin says the following:
The last serious effort to rein in the
Supreme Court—President Franklin
Roosevelt’s “court packing” scheme of the 1 930s—was an attempt to change
the Court’s direction by expanding its size. Since the Constitution is silent
about the number of justices who serve on the Court, its membership is
determined by federal legislation. Congress set the original number at six,
and after some fluctuation, the Court has been made up of nine justices since
1869. Roosevelt, whose New Deal agenda had been stymied by the Supreme
Court, wanted the power to name additional justices who would be sympathetic to his proposals. This blatantly political effort had mixed results.
In March 1937, shortly after the start of his second term, Roosevelt used
his ninth “fireside chat” from the ‘White House to rouse the public against the
Supreme Court. He told his listeners:
"The Court, in addition to the proper use of its judicial functions,
has improperly set itself up as a third house of Congress—a
super-legislature, as one of the justices has called it—reading into
the Constitution words and implications which are not there, and
which were never intended to be there.
We have therefore reached the point as a nation where we must
take action to save the Constitution from the Court and the
Court from itself. We must find a way to take an appeal from the
Supreme Court to the Constitution itself. We want a Supreme
Court which will do justice under the Constitution and not over
it. In our courts we want a government of laws and not of men.
The president added that the Supreme Court and the lower federal courts
were blocking his New Deal legislation because so many of the justices and
judges were old and feeble. Roosevelt proposed legislation giving the president power to appoint new justices for every justice who stayed on past the
age of seventy, up to a total of six new justices. The president could also add
judges to lower federal courts if the judges didn’t retire at seventy."
Nevertheless, Congress and the American public were skeptical. Roosevelt’s own
vice president, John Nance Garner, a former speaker of the House and longtime
member from Texas, broke with the president over the plan and worked actively
against it. Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes even wrote to Senator
Burton K. Wheeler (a liberal Democrat and a leading opponent of the plan) to
contradict the president’s claims that the Court was overburdened and that
additional justices would alleviate that condition. “An increase in the number
of justices of the Supreme Court. . . would not promote the efficiency of the
court. It is believed that it would impair the efficiency so long as the court
acts as a unit. There would be more judges to hear, more judges to confer, more
judges to discuss, more judges to be convinced and more judges to deride’
The otherwise loyal Democrat leadership in both houses rejected the president’s rationale for “fixing” the court, and ultimately the legislation never made it through either the House or the Senate. Roosevelt’s personal prestige was seriously damaged by his attempt to “reform” the Supreme Court.
In the long run, however, Roosevelt got what he wanted: One of the four “conservative” justices9 (Willis Van Devanter) announced his retirement, and the two swing votes on the Court (Charles Evans Hughes and Owen Roberts) began to vote in favor of the New Deal legislation that came before the Court. When he died in office on April 12, 1945, Roosevelt had appointed a total of eight Supreme Court justices.’
In the framers’ perspective, the chief method for controlling judges was impeachment. Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution provides for the removal of the president, vice president, and “civil Officers” such as justices “on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” There have been sixteen impeachments to date—one associate justice of the Supreme Court (Samuel Chase, 1804, acquitted, a precedent that has discouraged further impeachment proceedings against Supreme Court justices), eleven federal judges,’ one senator (William Blount, charges dismissed, 1799), one Cabinet official (Secretary of War William Belknap, acquitted, 1868), and two presidents (Andrew Johnson, 1868, acquitted; Bill Clinton, 1999, acquitted).
Chase’s case resulted in a fundamental redefinition of the constitutional mechanism of impeachment. The Jeffersonian Republicans (swept into power in 1800) charged Chase, a federalist appointed by President John Adams, with numerous abuses of discretion in his conduct of a treason trial13 and in the trial of publisher James Callendar, who had allegedly violated the Sedition Act.14 Charges were brought by the House after the Republicans, under the leadership of Thomas Jefferson, gained power as a result of the election of 1800.’
With regard to the treason trial, Chase was charged with conducting “himself in a manner highly arbitrary, oppressive, and unjust.” He was accused of “delivering a written legal opinion tending to prejudice the jury against the defendant before defense counsel had been heard” and denying the defense counsel the right to cite English common-law authorities and U.S. statutes.’ It was further claimed that Chase prevented the defendant’s counsel from addressing the jury concerning applicable federal law and violated Virginia law in his rulings during the trial.’ In the Callendar case, Chase allegedly seated an individual on the jury who had already declared his determination that the defendant was guilty.
The trial in the Senate—presided over by Vice President Aaron Burr—was considered one of the first “show” trials in the nation, with Jefferson applying behind-the-scenes pressure for Chase’s conviction. Nonetheless, Chase was acquitted of all charges.’ According to Chief Justice William Rehnquist, in his account of the trial:
The acquittal of Samuel Chase by the Senate had a profound effect on the American Judiciary. First, it assured the independence of federal judges from congressional oversight of the decisions they made in the cases that came before them. Second, by assuring that impeachment would not be used in the future as a method to remove members of the Supreme Court for their judicial opinions, it helped to safeguard the independence of that body.
As a result of Chase’s acquittal, the limited and extraordinary power of
Congress to impeach and remove a judge from his post has been denuded to
the point where a judge or a justice must act in a flagrantly illegal fashion
before that conduct would be considered beyond the Constitution’s “good
behavior” standard as it is currently interpreted. But I believe the framers
intended impeachment to be a practical limitation on the scope of judicial
conduct (as well as, of course, the conduct of all “federal officers” who abuse
the authority of their office or fail to follow the dictates of the Constitution).
We don’t necessarily have to carry it to the point made by Representative (and
later president) Gerald Ford, when he declared, during debate on the
prospective impeachment of Justice William 0. Douglas, that “an impeach-
able offense is whatever a majority of the House of Representatives say it is?’23
But there is considerable merit in recognizing that it would not compromise
the independence of the federal judiciary to treat egregious abuse of judicial
authority as a “high crime” worthy of impeachment and removal from office.
Knowingly doing harm to the Constitution, in my view, is not the sort of
“good behavior” the framers envisioned justifying continuance in office. pp 197-199
Are there other ways to discipline (read spank) an independent Judicial body? Yes! Read the following:
also possesses the constitutional authority to change the methods by which
judges are disciplined, short of impeachment and removal. In
1980, Congress enacted a law that created a process for removing and/or substituting new federal judges because of disability or misconduct. The act
allowed the chief justice of the United States and a majority of the members
of the judicial council in a given federal circuit to attest to a specific judge’s
inability to perform his duties. If the president agrees with the findings, he
can appoint an additional judge to that circuit. When the original judge dies, retires, or is removed from office, the original judge’s position is not filled. ibid
Yes, disciplinary action can be taken, but will it−is the question! Let's look at recent impeachment activity!
Read the following article posted in May of 2005:
Conservative politics, judicial impeachment, and Supreme Court Justice William
By Gene C. Gerard
Online Journal Contributing Writer
May 13, 2005
been considerable discussion by conservatives lately of impeaching judges,
allegedly for a variety of offenses.
Senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) criticized U.S. District Judge James Whittemore for ruling against congressional legislation that required stopping *Terri Schiavo's euthanasia. Senator Santorum said that the ruling is " . . . an offense that should be discussed in Congress. . . . I think he should be held accountable for it."
Florida Circuit Court Judge George Greer, who turned down congressional subpoenas seeking to question individuals related to the Schiavo case, is now the subject of an impeachment review by the Florida legislature.
House Majority Leader Tom DeLay has said that Congress must make a strong effort to control the courts and that its actions must amount to "more than rhetoric." Congressman DeLay has supported judicial impeachment for some time. In a 1997 letter he wrote to the editor of The New York Times, he stated, "I advocate impeaching judges who consistently ignore their constitutional role, violate their oath of office and breach the separation of powers. The Framers provided the tool of impeachment to keep the power of the judiciary in check. It is a tool Congress should explore using."
Some of the strongest calls by conservatives for impeachment have been heaped on U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. This is partially due to the fact that he is a Republican and was appointed by President Reagan. However, recent rulings have turned conservatives against him. In Lawrence vs. Texas, he ruled that consensual homosexual sex between adults, in the privacy of their home, was not unlawful. And earlier this year, he joined the court majority in ruling that it was unlawful to administer the death penalty to those under 18 years of age.
At a recent conservative political conference on the judiciary, Phyllis Schlafly, founder of the conservative women's group Eagle Forum, stated that since Justice Kennedy ruled against the death penalty for juveniles, this "is a good ground for impeachment." Michael P. Farris, chairman of the Home School Legal Defense, stated, "If our congressman and senators do not have the courage to impeach and remove from office Justice Kennedy, they aught to be impeached as well." And constitutional lawyer Edwin Vieira called for Kennedy's impeachment, stating that his ruling in the consensual sex case supported "satanic principles drawn from foreign law." Both Tom DeLay and Republican Congressman Todd Tiahrt of Kansas have supported impeaching Kennedy.
Politically motivated efforts by conservatives to impeach the judiciary are not new. In fact, their origins date back to the 1950s, when Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas faced impeachment proceedings. Douglas was appointed to the court in 1939 by President Roosevelt. He served on the court for 36 years, which is longer than any other justice in history. He also faced impeachment three times, which is a record unsurpassed by any other justice. Douglas was an outspoken defender of individual rights, and he firmly believed in a constitutional right to privacy.
During the McCarthy era in the 1950s, Douglas twice faced impeachment efforts. First, in the midst of the Korean War, he irritated conservatives for suggesting that the U.S. government should form closer ties with Communist China, in an effort to drive a wedge between it and the Soviet Union. At the time, he was accused of having Communist sympathies. Ironically, this diplomatic position became the cornerstone of President Nixon's foreign policy a decade later.
Then, in 1953, he stayed the execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who had been convicted and given the death sentence for conspiracy to commit espionage on behalf of the Soviet Union. Although Douglas commented that he only wanted to ensure that due process had been followed, he was again accused of being a Communist and an obstructionist judge.
During the 1960s, he was an outspoken critic of the Nixon administration. He strongly criticized what he felt was President Nixon's efforts to trample the Bill of Rights. He dissented when a majority on the Supreme Court, including three appointees of Nixon, upheld the constitutionality of the government's surveillance of civil rights and anti-war activists. He joined the majority of the Court in a ruling that allowed The New York Times and The Washington Post to publish the "Pentagon Papers," which were classified documents outlining the government's involvement in Vietnam. Douglas also tried to get his fellow justices to review the legality of the government's actions in Vietnam.
Furthermore, Douglas ruled against the actions of the Nixon administration, and engendered strong criticism from conservatives, in a case involving the Swedish film "I Am Curious Yellow." The U.S. Customs Office confiscated the film upon entering the country and would not allow its distribution, citing it as pornographic. However, the U.S. Supreme Court, with Douglas' strong support, ruled that this violated the First Amendment right to free speech. This ruling essentially made lawful the distribution of pornography to consenting adults in America.
In addition to disagreeing with his judicial philosophy and politics, conservatives also wanted to impeach Douglas on moral grounds. He was viewed as being scandalous for divorcing his wife in the early 1950s. This was the Supreme Court's first divorce. And not only did he divorce, but his second wife left her husband for Douglas, and was 18 years younger than he was.
He outraged conservatives further in the 1960s, when he married and divorced two more women, all of whom were more than 40 years younger than was he. He was married for the last time in 1966, to his fourth wife, who was a 22 year-old waitress. Additionally, conservatives were troubled by rumors that despite his age, he was sexually promiscuous and frequently unfaithful to his wives.
Mounting calls for impeachment finally prompted House Minority Leader Gerald Ford to undertake formal impeachment proceedings against Douglas in 1970. This was widely viewed as retaliation for the Democratic Senate's rejection of two of President Nixon's Supreme Court nominees. According to the Constitution, a Supreme Court Justice can only be impeached for failing to exercise "good behavior." When Congressman Ford was asked what was Douglas' offense, Ford infamously responded by saying, "The only honest answer is whatever a majority of the House of Representatives considers it to be at a given moment in history."
Ford cited Douglas' "liberal opinions" . . . as well as his "defense of the filthy film, 'I Am Curious Yellow.'" During the impeachment hearings, he was accused of being an associate of and accepting money from businessman Albert Parvin, who was linked to organized crime. Additionally, he was criticized for accepting $350 for an article he wrote on folk music for the magazine "Avant Garde." The magazine's publisher had served a prison sentence for the distribution of another magazine in 1966 that had been deemed pornographic. Describing Douglas' article, Ford stated, "The article itself is not pornographic, although it praises the lusty, lurid, and risqué along with the social protest of left-wing folk singers."
The final charge lobbed at Douglas was connected with another magazine, "Evergreen." It was popular with the counter-culture movement, and did sometimes contain nude photography. Douglas had written a book in 1970, entitled Points of Rebellion. An excerpt from the book was included in one of Evergreen's issues.
Ford accused Douglas of violating the "good behavior" requirement for justices by allowing his book to be excerpted in what was viewed as a pornographic, hippie magazine. However, the publisher admitted to the House that it sold Evergreen the reprint rights without Douglas' knowledge. Additionally, once the excerpt was read by some members of Congress, they discovered that rather than being anything titillating, it was a bland discussion of the U.S. Forestry Service and the interstate highway system.
Republican members of the impeachment committee were criticized for not sharing the issue of the magazine with their Democratic counterparts. This prompted Ohio Democratic Congressman Wayne Hays to ask, "Has anybody read the article—or is everybody over there who has a magazine just looking at the pictures?" His question received a boisterous laugh, and also demonstrated how trivial the hearings were. The impeachment proceedings were brought to a close, without Douglas having been found guilty of anything.
William O. Douglas faced repeated impeachment efforts that were largely politically motivated. Conservatives disagreed with his liberal judicial philosophy and disliked his personal life. It had little to do with being an obstructionist judge or attempting to legislate from the bench. The assault on the judiciary today by conservatives is, of course, remarkably similar.
Gene C. Gerard teaches American history at a small college in Dallas, Texas, and is a contributing author to the forthcoming book, "Americans at War," to be published by Greenwood Press. His previous articles have appeared in Online Journal, Political Affairs Magazine, The Free Press, Axis of Logic, Intervention Magazine, Alternative Press Review, and The Palestine Chronicle.
*Personally, I believe you should choose your battles! Perhaps they could have chosen someone that has, or had a better survival opportunity than Terri Schiavo. Her condition was terminal.
Corruption among Judges is nothing new. Some Judges are very good at following the laws they must rule from, while others make it up as they go. These are usually liberal in their ideology, and vacuous in their thinking!. When anyone places themselves above the laws of this country, they are courting disaster. Eventually they will reap what they sow. We have noticed an increasing trend towards violence, more now than in days past. Some people are just not able to think rationally. These unstable individuals just might take the law into their own hands, and eliminate these unstable judges. (This has happened only recently I might add.) We are not living in stable times! Law enforcement is always a target of hard-core criminals. It would be best for all concerned if the Judicial branches made good balanced decisions based on law and case precedence.
The following Biblical passage shows, there were corrupt judges in Israel's history. These two sons descended from someone who was untainted where Yahweh's law and the administration of it was concerned.
The earth is given into the hand of the wicked; He covers the faces of its judges. If it is not He, then who is it? Job 9:24
it happened when Samuel was old, he made his sons judges over Israel.
And the name of his first-born was Joel, and the name of his second, Abiah, judges in Beer-sheba.
And his sons did not walk in his ways, and turned aside after dishonest gain, and took a bribe, and perverted judgment. 1 Samuel 8:1-3
Samuel was an honest Yahweh fearing man, while his sons obviously were not.
you not known? Have you not heard? Was it not told to you from the beginning?
Did you not discern from the foundations of the earth?
He who sits on the circle of the earth, even those living in it are like grasshoppers; He who stretches the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to live in; who gives potentates into nothing. He makes judges of the earth as nothing. Isaiah 40:21-23
Her princes in the midst of her are roaring lions; her judges are evening wolves; they leave nothing till the morrow. Zephaniah 3:3
Yes! There comes a time when some Judges should be evaluated on performance. They should undergo valuations based on how they ruled, using the Constitution as a template. Judicial activists must be stopped before they go any further. The rights of the average citizen are now being taken away, using false interpretations of the various laws that were instituted during this countries inception. The Judiciary system should be policed by the Congress and Senate, and any unlawful rulings should be challenged. By keeping the Judicial branch in check, rulings should be more unanimous and consistent. Is it to late? Not yet!
Yours in Yahshua, Hawke
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