Overreaction To John Cornyn’s Statement

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) is being flayed in some quarters for saying:

“I don’t know if there is a cause-and-effect connection, but we have seen some recent episodes of courthouse violence in this country. . . . And I wonder whether there may be some connection between the perception in some quarters, on some occasions, where judges are making political decisions yet are unaccountable to the public, that it builds up and builds up and builds up to the point where some people engage in, engage in violence. Certainly without any justification, but a concern that I have.”

Cornyn’s primary mistake here is not advocating violence as some people have claimed — to the contrary, he correctly says attacks on judges are without justification — but saying something that can be easily misinterpreted.

For example, just look at Glenn Reynolds way over the top take on Cornyn’s remarks:

“If you need proof that some Republicans are just as dumb as some Democrats, this is it. Now if there are further attacks on judges, Cornyn — and the Republicans — will be blamed. What’s more, to some degree they’ll deserve it.

To quote Ari Fleischer’s underappreciated remarks, people need to be careful what they say. The notion — popular in some circles on the right — that dishonest or result-oriented behavior by some judges justifies an all-out war against the judiciary, or even the idea of an independent judiciary, is un-conservative, and for that matter un-American.

Plus, when you get that hysterical, you sound like Paul Krugman.”

You know, I like Glenn a lot, I think he’s one of the best bloggers in the business, I read his page every day, he was nice enough to do an interview with me early on (Hey, Glenn, when do you want to do that 2nd one?), but quite frankly, he’s the one who sounds as hysterical as Paul Krugman here.

So Republicans are going to be blamed for attacks on judges because of a statement made by a Republican Senator that doesn’t advocate attacks on judges and refers to such assaults as being “without any justification?”

Well, I suppose Democrats will blame Republicans for any attacks on judges, but they blame us for everything short of foot fungus & split ends as it is, so will anyone notice the difference?

Moreover, while there is a growing level of discontentment with our imperial judiciary on the right, I don’t know of any conservative who has called for an “all out war” against “the idea of an independent judiciary.” So where does Glenn get this from?

I will say this, though: our government is a system of checks and balances and quite frankly, the judiciary has been allowed to tilt the scale in their own favor far too often.

We have courts in Massachusetts “discovering” that a “right” to gay marriage was written into a 200 year old state Constitution. We have multiple Federal Courts deciding to simply ignore Congress when it writes a law demanding a de novo review of the Terri Schiavo case. We have judges on the Supreme Court of the United States openly admitting that they’re making rulings based on what they perceive to be “world opinion.” The First Amendment, which the Founding Fathers intended to protect religious liberty, has been turned on its head and used as cudgel against public displays of religious belief.

This sort of judicial overstretch is not new, nor is it rare, but happily, I think we’re finally starting to see Congress push back. Hopefully, as members of Congress do so, they’ll take a bit more care with how they phrase things than Senator Cornyn did so as not to provide fodder for their political opponents.

*** Update #1 ***: More on this topic from BeldarBlog.

*** Update #2***: Here’s clarification from Cornyn.

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