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Bush says:
Fifty years ago today, nine judges announced that they had looked at the Constitution and saw no justification for the segregation and humiliation of an entire race," Bush said at the opening of a national historic site at Monroe Elementary, a former all-black school in the heartland of the school desegregation effort.
Freakin' activist judges!

Seriously, what this teaches us is that judges exist for a reason -- to protect us from the tyranny of the majority. If Bush was president 50 years ago, he'd be railing against those nine Justices the way he and his allies have railed against the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Mon May 17, 2004 at 06:13 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  No question (none)
    Eike he is not.
    •  context (none)
      Well Ike wasn't really Ike in the sense that he was pissed about the Brown decision and considered putting Warren on the Court the biggest mistake of his presidency.  But once the decision was announced and Ike was put in the position of enforcing it with the Army and National Guard he did so without hesistation.  Eisenhower had that kind of respect for the rule of law that he wouldn't allow the state and local governments to defy federal court orders when it really would have been in his political advantage to do so.

      His personal feelings about Brown aside, I don't think the guy gets enough credit, he stopped the Israel/French/British war in the Suez before it got out of control, created the interstate highway system, specifically kept us from escalating Vietnam during his presidency and spoke against the dangers of the military/industrial complex.  

  •  I hate how they use that term (none)
    "Activist judges."  It must raise flags among the Bush true believers, but I think it's a positive term.

    All judges are "activist" because their job is to interpret the law.  The Constitution is rather vague on some issues, so it's difficult to be a "strict Constitutionalist."

    Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning? -- G. W. Bush

    by Unstable Isotope on Mon May 17, 2004 at 06:16:24 PM PDT

    •  well (none)
      It raises huge flags with his supporters, just like Ronald Reagan's use of "state's rights" when he kicked off his 1980 campaign in the same Missippi town where the three civil rights workers were murdered in the 60s was code words for keeping blacks in their place.

      Mostly an "activist" decision can most aptly be defined as a decision you don't like cause there are certainly conservative activist decisions that the right loves (Bush v. Gore is as activist as it gets).    

    •  Absolutely (none)
      It's another example of what Orwell taught us.  Command the language and you command the agenda and the people.  Activist judges are judges who decide that a man who lost the popular election by a half million votes nevertheless deserved to be elected President.  That's activism with a capital A.
      •  Activist is code (none)
        Bushco's hardcore supporters know that "activist judges" equals "God-hating, gay-loving, baby-killing monsters."  Just like the parenthetical aside that accompanied the phrase "silent majority" was "Yeah you, Bubba."  
    •  Ever since ... (none)
      ...Marbury v. Madison in 1803, "activist" judges have been attacked by those for whom their so-called activism has meant discomfort. Just code for they're not following the constitutional rules as I and my ilk interpret them.

      "Grab whom you must. Do what you want."

      by Meteor Blades on Mon May 17, 2004 at 06:32:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Amen (none)
    As it were.  Well put.  Serve and protect that Constitution, King George.
    •  Amen, amen (none)
      (old spiritual, I think)

      kos: "Seriously, what this teaches us is that judges exist for a reason -- to protect us from the tyranny of the majority."

      a-a-men, a-a-men, a-a-men, amen, amen

      The first time King George speaks out against the MA Sup. Ct., I hope someone nails him with his own quote.

      F**king hypocite.

      "pay any price, bear any burden"

      by JimPortlandOR on Mon May 17, 2004 at 08:30:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  You have to get more sleep (none)
    Two mispelled headings out of four threads.

    "Bush praises activists judges"
    "Doubletalk on the Geneva Convetion"

    At least you didn't forget how to spell "Open Thread".


    •  mrrr website is TRIXXY!!! (none)
      i was about to deride you for pluralizing the adjective "activist" when I realized it was changed to be the right spelling, and you were quoting the unedited website.

      Oh well, at least your post is still here so we can figure out that changes were made.

      "All I know is just the facts, where the world is nowadays. An idea is what we lack doesn't matter anyways"

      by Demosthenes on Mon May 17, 2004 at 07:01:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  That's "misspelled" (none)
      Look it up in a dictionary.

      "The truth won't hurt you; it's just like the dark. It scares you witless, but in time you see things clear and stark." - Elvis Costello

      by AlanF on Tue May 18, 2004 at 06:26:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Wasn't he selected as President (4.00)
    by activist judges?
  •  Nathan Newman (none)
    Nathan Newman has a post challenging the conventional wisdom about judges vs. tyranny of the majority that is well worth reading.  We should remember that it isn't just the majority that creates bad laws.  The same institution that struck down segregation in Brown v. Board gave it a boost 60 years earlier in Plessy v. Ferguson.  
    •  So-called activist judges (none)
      Read "The Warren Court and American Politics."  It becomes absolutely  clear that the "activist" Warren Court actually worked in concert with majorities in Congress and made moves that were favored by a majority of the population.  They were majoritarian.  So much of the fuss about activist judges and the Warren Court is (all together now): conservative lies and/or misunderstanding.  
  •  Rotten Mass. Activist Republicans..!! (4.00)
    yes, yes.

    The lazy "Liberal" media always fails to point out when the wackos start screaming about "activism" from the Mass High Court, that 6 0f 7 are GOP appointees.  The GOP has controlled the state house since 1991, and as a result they have packed the court.

    I bet most people think Mass + activism = Democratic appointees.  But, no they're Bush boys.  One was appointed by Bill Weld (former Reagan Justice Dept) and 5 by Bush's good personal friend, Paul Cellucci, who bush would appoint as his ambassador to Canada.

    So take that, you "Activist" Republicans.  And here's you Mass Supreme Court, cheers !

  •  this is what they do (4.00)
    This is just they way their side does things.  They make up little words/phrases which are basically meaningless but which are used as codes to fire up the base.

    "Activist judges" are judges that disagree with orthodox conservatism.
    "Identity politics" is when someone who is not a white male brings up race/ethnicity/gender/etc. in political discourse.
    "Special rights" are equal rights for gays.

    etc. etc. ad nauseam.

  •  Judiciarys. (none)
    I don't care what you say, long live the Liberal Democracy. The rights of the individual are far more important and courts are their to protect it, as long as they know that. Judicial review in my opinion, is the most brilliant facet of modern democracy. Today we see its fruits of non violent minority rights. Imagine the horrible events that would lead up to legislative rights being granted to gays. now all we have to do is stop amendments from being passed, and as people realize how little it affects them, that will become easy. The conservitives are hoping for the base to come alive in response, but my money is on people realizing how little it affects their life. I know several people who would vote no on a Support gay marriage poll question, but for some reason, would vote against, or not at all on an actual amendmant.
  •  These guys talk about the founding fathers (none)
    Then they fail to understand what the system of checks and balances the founding fathers instituted following their experiences with twentifive years of economic and political dislocation and war.

    Th Constitution contemplates the following conundrum:

    '"Pure" Democracy thinks that one hundred men are smarter than one man.' --excuse me?

    'Autocracy thinks that one man is smarter than one hundred men.' --How's that again?

    Gotta protect all sides of this or we wind up with with a ridgid government of one kind or another. There's no absolutes in this, it's a process. The judges are a very necessary part to protect both the individual and the society. The bushies want the judges to be only coercive, not protective, upon the populace and individuals. They just don't get what the Constitutional Convention Delegates debated all summer long in 1788, and the following development over time and the Civil War, and since.

  •  Leaders or followers? (none)
    Today's NY Times has an op-ed by Michael Klarman that makes the case that the country's attitudes changed first and the Supreme Court followed:

    Brown was possible only because significant changes in racial attitudes and practices were already taking place in America. Justice Felix Frankfurter later observed that had a challenge to school segregation reached the court in the 1940's, he would have voted to reject it because "public opinion had not then crystallized against segregation." The N.A.A.C.P. understood this, too, and refrained from directly challenging school segregation until 1950.

    •  Yes (none)
      It's worth noting that the schools remained largely segregated in the South in the decade following Brown v. Board.  There's a huge body of literature out there debating whether Brown pushed the civil rights agenda forward, kept it roughly where it was, or even set it back.  Typically, major social changes don't take place until the majority is good and ready, and if courts jump the gun too much, there's often a backlash.  We see this to some degree with gay marriage, although I think that the backlash against that is limited because 1.) America is reasonably tolerant of homosexuality already, and 2.) Gay marriage doesn't have much tangible impact on the average person (unlike school segregation--the average person's kids would be directly affected).  Although I think that Brown was a good decision, at least for its symbolic value at the time, we need to remember that it didn't change America overnight.  Courts are a poor substitute for political mobilization and efforts to convince the majority.  
  •  Just shows how racist he is (none)
    Can this guy say anything without showing how bad he is? There is no such thing as race... it's nothing more than an invented term used to justify discrimination between people of different skin pigmentation.
    By refering to "an entire race" of people Bush shows that he believes the myth that people of darker skin are seperate and "other" from those with lighter skin and that there is more to this seperateness than simple gradations of pigmentation.
    Ignorant and bigotted.
    Chris Laughlin
  •  On NPR today (none)
    they were reading actual letters written to Eisenhower after the Brown decision.  Some were positive, a lot were negative.  It was difficult to listen to them, they were so bad.  Interestingly, the ones who made to most racist remarks always described themselves as Christian and patriotic.

    Excerpt from one letter (paraphrasing)

    ...if God had meant for the races to mingle, he would have made them all white, or us all black...

    I'm not even going to comment on the letter that said they all had veneral disease...

    Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning? -- G. W. Bush

    by Unstable Isotope on Mon May 17, 2004 at 06:59:41 PM PDT

  •  Ike a relative champion of civil rights (none)
    The 1950s was a time when a Republican was promoting civil rights legislation (of sorts) and Democratic US Senators were foaming at the mouth signing the Southern Manifesto promoting defiance of the Supreme Court. Which had its effect on the black vote in presidential elections.

    Why Bush is bothering to court the black vote, I cannot figure...

    •  pragmatism... (none)
      Just like LBJ(and Nixon and northern Dems) supporting civil rights...votes.

      I was thinking today that every age has a conservative element that is afraid of change for one reason or another. If it wasn't for how sick and ignorant people's hearts could be, those hate letters Ike received would be laughable today.

      In 50 years, this similar bigotry over gay marraige will be another quaint relic of the unenlightened.

      •  I hope you're right (none)
        I have no idea what will happen in 50 years. The thought terrifies me. I just hope that enough black voters realize that just because Bush hates gays does not mean he is going to do anything to help them or improve their lives.
  •  One thing you can (none)
    depend on is that the wingnuts are never ahead of the curve but always behind it.
    They celebrate policies and movements that they fought tooth and nail to stop, only to act like supporters years later for strictly political reasons.
    But thats why we dispise them and we wouldn't have it any other way.
  •  Beautiful Post Markos (none)

    Marching Towards A Landslide

    by BrooklynBoy on Mon May 17, 2004 at 07:06:12 PM PDT

  •  Bush rings hollow. (none)
    Colin Powell in whiteface is as close as Bush comes to balance.

    "Lowered expectations." The Bush mantra of "soft bigotry."

    There's nothing soft about bigotry. Set the standard (for lack of a better term) straight.
    Apologies to those of other  personal persuasions, no putting down of those not classified as straight.

    Just  addressing the linguistic shortcomings of  coded language.

    •  I'll say this for Bush (none)
      I honestly don't believe he's a racist any more than the average White Repub Male. (Take that as you like).  

      IMHO, these guys will screw anyone, black, white, yellow or brown and smile in your face while they're doing it.

      Another four years, we'll ALL be "enemy combatants"

      by Jank2112 on Mon May 17, 2004 at 08:19:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  A Needed Reminder (4.00)
    Today's Supreme Court decision in Tennessee v. Lane should remind everyone of other momentous stakes in the November presidential election that go beyond war and peace in Iraq: the very soul of our Constitution.

    By a 5 to 4 vote today, the court majority barely declined to rule unconstitutional Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. At issue here was Section 5 of the 14th Amendment, which by its express terms authorizes Congress to pass legislation enforcing equal protection and due process rights.

    Dissenters Rehnquist, Kennedy, and, of course, Thomas would have held that Congress had no constitutional authority to enact the ADA. Dissenter Scalia would have held that Congress has no power to enact any laws protecting the civil rights of any minority except one involving race. (Bye-bye Title VII, Title IX, anti-age discrimination, and for that matter freedom of speech and press.)

    Today's minority in the past has been able to recruit O'Connor and prevail in very similar cases over the last fifteen years. Either by reading section 5 narrowly to deny to Congress any law-making power in the area of individual civil liberties, or by inventing a blanket "state sovereign immunity" interpretation out of the otherwise 'plain' language of the Eleventh Amendment, the Rehquist-Scalia "Axis of Weevil" has been seeking, in effect, to reverse the gains in individual freedom and civil liberty achieved as a result of the Civil War amendments.

    Today, Sandra Day O'Connor again was the swing vote. This time, it was in favor of the individual's rights against a state government. Last time, she went the other way. It is widely rumored that she wants to  retire from the court. Rehquist and Stevens are ready to go as well.

    Thus, it seems certain that the next elected president will have a unique opportunity to replace at least 1/3 of the Supreme Court in his first year -- and quite possibly more throughout the rest of the term.

    On many issues, the Axis of Weevil faction is intent on undermining individual liberties. Right now, in effect, the Bill of Rights hangs by O'Connor's one-half vote thread. Should Bush win reelection, there can be little room for doubt that civil liberties and equality of treatment enjoyed by women, the elderly, the disabled, and of course gays will be at risk for at least a full generation or longer.

    Indeed, it is only a slight over-simplification to say that if the Rehnquist view becomes the consistent majority view, State Government power will trump all individual claims to liberty, Federal Government power will trump State Government power, and Corporate Power will trump the Federal regulatory authority.

    Reelect Bush and the shit that rolls downhill will come from Halliburton Corporate and land on your head.

    •  excellent post (none)
      Could those who wanted to retire see their doing it during a bush I term as a possible abdication of their constitutional right since their successor, if chosen by a bush regime, would surely do their best to destroy the Constitution?

      Could they be waiting until Kerry is inaugurated to announce they no longer want to serve, thus not having to subject  America to a sure Constitutional crisis at the hands of a bush-appointed majority bench?

      But what I want to know is if you ACCEPT a position that is FOR FREAKIN' LIFE what is with the "retirement" crap.   You KNOW it's for life. You should DIE in that role.  People shouldn't retire from such a position (yes they have the right to) FOR PRECISELY the reason the position was made for life to begin with.  Continutity of our Constitutional oversight and review process.

      Sorry for the last rant but we are really this close aren't we.

      •  Extremely good people (none)
        have retired.  Thurgood for one, Harry Blackmun another.  Marshall, iirc, only had a few months and Blackmun a small number of years, and he worked to leave a legacy.  There are good reasons. Who knows with venality os some on the court, tho... Rhenquist, well that would be a trade, crap out crap in....  I think Stevens sticks it out, I think O'Connor as well, I htink she knows she screwed history.  I doubt Ginsburg has any plans, her health is supposed to be stable..

        I was just thinking this morning, except for the fiat that put Shit Boy in, filthy as it was...and I will live to see it properly written about, the only thing he did not get his hands on is the Court.  Of course he sullied it for history (and those on the court who helped, happily) for all time really.  As for who goes thsi summer, well, this is a tenterhook waiting game.  With a bit of luck, maybe we escape, otherwise Democrats have to search for those vertebrae.

        I guess we have Gen. Boykin Rules of Engagement: our god is bigger.

        by Marisacat on Mon May 17, 2004 at 08:39:16 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Rhenquist was against Brown V (4.00)
    Rehnquist's memo unambiguously stated that "Plessy vs. Ferguson was right and should be reaffirmed." It acknowledged that this "is an unpopular and unhumanitarian position for which I have been excoriated by 'liberal' colleagues." But in its key passage, it insisted that "one hundred and fifty years of attempts on the part of this court to protect minority rights of any kind -- whether those of business, slaveholders, or Jehovah's Witnesses -- have all met the same fate. One by one the cases establishing such rights have been sloughed off, and crept silently to rest. If the present court is unable to profit by this example, it must be prepared to see its work fade in time, too, as embodying only the sentiments of a transient majority of nine men."

    Rehnquist went on: "To the argument ... that a majority may not deprive a minority of its constitutional right, the answer must be made that while this is sound in theory, in the long run it is the majority who will determine what the constitutional rights of the minority are."

    Rehnquist's memo concluded that the court should uphold segregation and refuse to protect "special claims" merely "because its members individually are 'liberals' and dislike segregation."

    LA Times OP Ed

    Please tell me the last 3 1/2 years have been a nightmare and I'll wake up in America

    by Mike S on Mon May 17, 2004 at 07:23:06 PM PDT

  •  Gay Marriage (none)
    Medium Lobster the omnipotent wise one, speaks of the evils of activist judges RE gay marriage and how it is the end of western civilization.  As usual with Medium Lobster sarcasm tags are enabled.
  •  Of Course - Who Doesn't Like Activist Judges? (none)
    Oh, sure ... many claim to dislike judicial activism; but is anyone consistent in that regard?

    How about the Doctrine of Incorporation?  The Supreme Court simply pulled that one out of it's ass, claiming that the Fourteenth Amendment[1] mandates it, and it became law.  Very slowly, with different Amendments being incorporated as the years passed.  In fact, not all of the Bill of Rights has been explicitly Incorporated yet, though I think most would agree that if you're going to incorporate, say, Amendment I, that you can't logically decline to incorporate, say, Amendment II.

    Is there any politician of any stature in recent memory (aside from Ed Meese) who thinks that the Doctrine of Incorporation is bogus law?  Hell, even that most sanctimonious and self-righteous embracer of Original Intent, Antonin Scalia, rules in his decisions consistent with the acceptance that state and lesser levels of government are bound by the restraints of the Bill of Rights.

    When I hear someone whining about "judicial activism", I ask them if they think that their particular state should have the right to ban all private ownership of firearms, ban certain religious faiths, and shut down newspapers if the state disapproves of their content.  Invariably, the answer is "no".  It seems that their opposition to "judicial activism" isn't universal.

    Actually, I'm often surprised by how few people realize that when this nation was founded, the Founders reserved the right of the various states to enact precisely those sorts of prohibitions.

    If you want to oppose "judicial activism", fine - then do it across the board.  If you don't, and instead simply oppose it when you happen to disagree with an specific opinion, then your complaint on the grounds of "judicial activism" is baseless.

    [1] - You'll find a few contemporary proponents of Amendment XIV that indeed did claim that it would extend the prohibitions of the Bill of Rights to all sub-federal levels of government.  But you'll also find that the Amendment passed with the intent of the majority of those who left a record of their opinions merely to enfranchise African-Americans, not to Incorporate the Bill of Rights.

  •  Same old rascals, different decade (none)
    If Bush was president 50 years ago, he'd be railing against those nine Justices the way he and his allies have railed against the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.

    Historial context like this helps give perspective. It's safe to say that if the Republicans were in charge in the Middle Ages, we'd all still be serfs.

    moderation in moderation

    by solaroh on Mon May 17, 2004 at 08:02:17 PM PDT

  •  That's always the problem with simple labels (none)
    "Activist" is such a broad, fairly meaningless, sweeping term that it does not say anything of substance or specificity.  It is typically invoked when raising hell about some ruling that is opposed by popular opinion, but not in a consistent manner.

    Having said that, speaking very objectively, I do think that the gay marriage "issue" is a potential boon for the GOP in November.  Even if polls indicate that people oppose a consitutional amendment in the abstract, the way that it is presented will help Bush bring the social conservative troops to the polls, big-time.  It dovetails with the abortion issue as well as church-state rulings, etc. where a substantial chunk of the country is very alarmed with the output of the judiciary's decisions on society.

    •  Activists... (none)
      I think Bush would get the social cons in droves to the polls anyway. He would have to be in favour of gay marriage before social cons would be deterred to go to the polls in November.

      The extremes of both sides always like to vote, the problem is that the far right is better unified behind their candidates, as we have to bicker with Nader and some left wing dems who want the whole cake right now. It's not easy being progressive. Or a democrat.

      We need more activist judges. Especially republican ones, who seem to do the dirty work for us. The repukes are the real radicals as evident, but then again, that doesn't come as a big surprise.

      I don't think moderates will grab on this single issue as the decisive factor to vote for Bush. It would be ridicolous. Of course, it's always hard to underestimate the oblivious ignorance of the voting americans. So, the effect of G- marriage on the election remains to be seen. I'm hopeful that it will end up as just a footnote. That's not the real issue.

      Republicans best friend is ignorance.

      by Jonesyboy on Tue May 18, 2004 at 04:24:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The issue has resonance (none)
        Gay marriage per se is not overwhelming, but serves as a breaking point, "the last straw" for a lot of religiously minded people who are appalled by what they may term as an elitist, secular judicial strangehold on the nation.  Abortion, dispaly of religious symbols in public, etc. are all connected to this judicial question.  Justices make tons of rulings each year, but as you might imagine, only certain hot-button ones are on most people's radar screens.

        Anyway, I don't think that you can just lump such a large group of people as simply "Social Conservatives" who will all vote for Bush, and thus won't be affected by any of this.  There may be some who usually or often vote Democratic for various reasons but could support the GOP in this election.  I think that it's more accurate to say that strong supporters of judicial activism to facilitate gay marriage (and abortion, etc.) are going to vote for Kerry under (almost) all circumstances and thus he gains very little politically.  More intense energy in the Christian Coalition means more volunteers, more letters being sent out, more yardsigns and of course, fundraising. Each individual is weighting a lot of issues, but these judicial-appointment related ones could be an substantial drag on Kerry.

        •  True enough (none)
          Yes, you are right. The effects of this is already being witnessed in the South. Some papers were screaming about some alabaman and georgian gay couples going to Mass. to get wed. Now the christian right is panicing that these couples will sue the states of Georgia and Alabama. Which i think is impossible as there is surely laws against it.

          Well, this is blowing new life into the Christian right. They just never give up.

          So, instead of judicial tyranny, we should be facing the full blown tyranny of the Fellowship of the Bush Administration.

          The complete fallout will be seen in November however and the few weeks before the election. In FL, TN, KY, LA & AR this is going to effect Kerry, how badly, well, that remains to be seen. Already in FL we've had Gooper reps in the press crying how this is "wrong", "judicial tyranny" and other equally dumbass comments. Very few dems dare to even speak about it, but that's understandable.

          My "rep" Gooper asshole Mica (yes, R, thanks to new districts) is a known supporter of Christian Coalition. Well, i'll see him in hell. I probably should ask Satan for separate living spaces.

          Republicans best friend is ignorance.

          by Jonesyboy on Tue May 18, 2004 at 07:59:43 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  There is a law against it, but... (none)
            The Defense of Marriage Act allows states to reject the marriages of other states; however, until at least one state officially started allowing gay marriage, it wasn't possible for there to be a test case to challenge the law.  Now it is possible - and the Christian right fears that the DOMA might be found to conflict with the "full faith and credit" clause of the Constitution  (and rightly so, in my opinion - except of course that I think it's a good thing and they think it's a bad thing).
  •  what Bush ALSO said (3.50)
    here's the quote that made me choke on my dinner when I heard it on the Newshour last night:

    we honor those who expose our failures, correct our course, and make us a better people.

    I guess that's true. If by "honor" you mean smearing them as partisan liars and outing their wives as CIA agents.

  •  If Bush had been president 60 years ago. . . . (none)
    Brown vs. Board of Education would have been decided in favor of segregation.
  •  Bush praises activist judges (none)
    As a teacher, I've seen first-hand what Bush (or least his puppeteers) wants to do to public education - eradicate it.

    Remember that private education is much further from the reach of the "activist judges".

    - Betty

    by BettyAlex on Tue May 18, 2004 at 07:25:16 AM PDT

  •  Absolutely! (none)
    I hate how Bush uses the judiciary as a scapegoat for everything he doesn't like - he didn't mind the activist judges who put him in office in 2000!

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