There has already been talk on the winger fringe that Obama should be impeached just because the Repubs don't like him. So it's not too far a leap from there to call for judges to be impeached if they make rulings Congress doesn't like. Well, leave it to David Barton to go there. I mentioned this yesterday, but the historical errors here are so egregious--even by Barton's standards--that I had to repost today for this to get more eyes.
According to PFAW's Right Wing Watch, Barton said on yesterday's edition of Wallbuilders Live that Congress has the right to hale a judge before the House Judiciary Committee if s/he makes a "bad" ruling, force him or her to defend it, and then begin impeachment proceedings.
Barton: There have been 97 impeachment investigations across history with judges; you've had 13 impeachments taken off the court. And the more often you have an impeachment investigation, the less often you have to remove a judge because, what Thomas Jefferson says, impeachment is a scarecrow - you sit out there in the middle of the field and that will scare them off.
Green: Because all the other judges are watching that, going 'I don't want that to be me.'
Barton: You betcha. For example, take the judge in California that says, oh no, having 'under God' in the Pledge of Allegiance, completely unconstitutional.
What you do is you convene a hearing in Washington DC, Congress says we want you to come appear before the judiciary committee and explain to us exactly what your thinking is that says we can't acknowledge God when that's in the Declaration and in the Constitution. What are you thinking?
And other judges see him getting called before Congress to be accountable and they go 'oh my gosh, we're not going to touch that.' Exactly!
The full show, if you can stand to listen, is available in Windows Audio. Barton starts his spiel on impeachment at the 5:10 mark. For instance, he claims that early on, a judge was removed from office for a private alcohol addiction, another for cussing on the bench, and a third for contradicting an act of Congress. But, as you'll see after the jump, the historical record shows that Barton leaves out a lot of critical facts in the first case, and in the latter two gets the facts completely wrong.
The only reference I can find to a judge being removed for drunkenness during either of the presidency of a signer of the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution was the case of John Pickering, the first federal official in any branch to be thrown out of office by the impeachment process. Pickering had a history of drunkenness--but it had progressed to the point that he was no longer attending court on a regular basis. And when he did show up, his rulings troubled his colleagues so much that they thought he'd gone insane. So yes, his addiction to the bottle was a factor in his removal--but it had progressed to the point that he was no longer competent for the bench.
I can't find any reference to a judge being thrown off the court during either of the Founders' presidencies for cussing or for contradicting an act of Congress. I suspect that Barton may have been trying to conflate the case of Samuel Chase--the only case where a Supreme Court justice has been impeached. Ironically, the Chase impeachment makes a shambles out of Barton's argument. Chase was impeached for denouncing the repeal of the Judiciary Act of 1801, as well as for seven instances relating to cases he tried (in those days, Supreme Court justices also served as trial judges in circuit courts). He was tried in 1805, and all eight articles were defeated in the Senate by lopsided margins. By all accounts, several Senators who disagreed with Chase politically voted to acquit because they felt the quality of his judging wasn't an impeachable offense. And since a good number of them took part in the Revolution, that should tell you something.
Here's the scary part, folks. A lot of kids in Christian schools and in Christian homeschooling curricula are learning this garbage. Fortunately, a lot of it is easily debunked.