I'd Call This Newsworthy
Interesting that most of the American papers didn't cover this:
Sandra Day O'Connor, a Republican-appointed judge who retired last month after 24 years on the supreme court, has said the US is in danger of edging towards dictatorship if the party's rightwingers continue to attack the judiciary.
In a strongly worded speech at Georgetown University, reported by National Public Radio and the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, Ms O'Connor took aim at Republican leaders whose repeated denunciations of the courts for alleged liberal bias could, she said, be contributing to a climate of violence against judges.
Ms O'Connor, nominated by Ronald Reagan as the first woman supreme court justice, declared: "We must be ever-vigilant against those who would strong-arm the judiciary."
She pointed to autocracies in the developing world and former Communist countries as lessons on where interference with the judiciary might lead. "It takes a lot of degeneration before a country falls into dictatorship, but we should avoid these ends by avoiding these beginnings."
The Republicans, despite having their Presidents appoint judges for 20 out of the last 28 years (God, it hurts to say that), think they can bully the judiciary the same way they've bullied the Democrats in Congress. O'Connor is giving them a fair warning.
Frequently the courts are the last refuge of this country, the last arbiter of Constitutionality. This is where the NSA scandal should ultimately go; censure is merely an expression of disapproval. With Congressional oversight a thing of the past, the courts are one of the last options against this kind of thuggery. Good for Sandra Day O'Connor.
After the decision last March that ordered a brain-dead woman in Florida, Terri Schiavo, removed from life support, Mr DeLay said: "The time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behaviour."
Mr DeLay later called for the impeachment of judges involved in the Schiavo case, and called for more scrutiny of "an arrogant, out-of-control, unaccountable judiciary that thumbed their nose at Congress and the president".
Such threats, Ms O'Connor said, "pose a direct threat to our constitutional freedom", and she told the lawyers in her audience: "I want you to tune your ears to these attacks ... You have an obligation to speak up.
"Statutes and constitutions do not protect judicial independence - people do," the retired supreme court justice said.
She noted death threats against judges were on the rise and added that the situation was not helped by a senior senator's suggestion that there might be a connection between the violence against judges and the decisions they make.
The senator she was referring to was John Cornyn, a Bush loyalist from Texas, who made his remarks last April, soon after a judge was shot dead in an Atlanta courtroom and the family of a federal judge was murdered in Illinois.
I hope the legal community listens to this Cassandra. The rhetoric against the judiciary is out of bounds and something needs to be done about it.