The Facts Machine

"And I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide"

Monday, May 02, 2005


Pat Robertson yesterday:
Federal judges are a more serious threat to America than Al Qaeda and the Sept. 11 terrorists, the Rev. Pat Robertson claimed yesterday.

"Over 100 years, I think the gradual erosion of the consensus that's held our country together is probably more serious than a few bearded terrorists who fly into buildings," Robertson said on ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos."

"I think we have controlled Al Qaeda," the 700 Club host said, but warned of "erosion at home" and said judges were creating a "tyranny of oligarchy."

Confronted by Stephanopoulos on his claims that an out-of-control liberal judiciary is the worst threat America has faced in 400 years - worse than Nazi Germany, Japan and the Civil War - Robertson didn't back down.

"Yes, I really believe that," he said. "I think they are destroying the fabric that holds our nation together."
Let's go back to 1981 and take it from there.

Presidents since 1981:

1981-1989: Ronald Reagan (R)
1989-1993: George H W Bush (R)

1993-2001: Bill Clinton (D)
2001-2005: George W Bush (R)

That means for 16.5 of the last 24.5 years, Republicans have controlled the White House, and thus, judicial appointments. The vast majority of the current federal judiciary was nominated and confirmed during this period. I don't remember any out-of-the-ordinary courtpacking going on during the Clinton years (though I do remember Orrin Hatch and the Senate Judiciary Committee killing a bunch of Clinton judicial nominees in committee).

The question is so obvious that it doesn't even get asked, except here: How can the judiciary possibly be a runaway liberal establishment?

And to the Reverend: Do you have a problem with the way Reagan, Bush and Bush Jr used their powers of judicial appointment? And if you have time for a second question, where was your buddy Antonin Scalia when the Schiavo case made it to him?

(Also, let's face it, any Carter and Ford appointees still serving weren't exactly waiting for these last couple years to "make their move" or something.)

The reason Fristy and company are going after the "runaway liberal judiciary" is simple: conservatives need a domestic enemy. This goes back decades, from HUAC to peaceniks to the "homosexual agenda" to illegal immigrants to Bill Clinton and his "lesbians in the White House!" Their conservatism doesn't work unless they can identify something threatening to oppose.

The problem for them now is, they don't have Bill Clinton to kick around anymore, at least in a direct fashion. The end of the 2004 campaign left a vacuum: Kerry was no longer a threat, and his inability to win neutralizes the effective power of Michael Moore, etc. They blew their wad in trying to label mainstream American liberals as being "in league with the terrorists" over the last few years, so much so that their credibility in doing so any further is, well, shot. The Democrats don't control anything on a national level, including the judiciary. Yet compared to the rest of the government, the judicial branch is the most abstract and mysterious segment of it; the robes, the lack of a partisan affiliation right after the judge's name in the paper, the lack of video and audio (when was the last time you saw a Federal Appeals Court case being argued on C-SPAN?).

Knowing this, the conservatives settled on the judiciary as their domestic enemy. All they had to do was cherrypick a small handful of decisions they don't like (the Schiavo feeding tube removal, Justice Kennedy's majority opinion on Lawrence v Texas), and weave them into their Big Lie. You'd think they would be more appreciative: After all, if it weren't for Justice Kennedy, they'd be busy bashing President Gore.


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