Published April 20, 2005
WASHINGTON – The House Judiciary Committee is reviewing the activities of justices on the Supreme Court and in other circuits to determine whether they have overstepped their authority and must be reined in, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (search) told FOX News Radio's Tony Snow on Tuesday.
On that list for review is Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy (search), DeLay said, calling the judge's written decisions "outrageous."
"We've got Justice Kennedy writing decisions based upon international law, not the Constitution of the United States. That's just outrageous, and not only that, he said in session that he does his own research on the Internet. That is just incredibly outrageous," DeLay said in the interview.
DeLay said he and other members of Congress have just begun using the long-held authority vested in them by the Constitution to conduct judicial review.
"We've already passed six bills limiting the jurisdiction of the court in the last two years. They haven't gotten through the Senate but we're starting this body of thought. We have the opportunity to set up courts, we can also dismantle courts and re-organize them. We passed an amendment in September breaking up that leftist court in San Francisco, the 9th Circuit. We have plenty of opportunities and ways to hold the judiciary accountable," DeLay said.
DeLay has recently expressed hostility to the courts, in particular over the case of brain-damaged woman Terri Schiavo (search), for whom Congress intervened to demand the federal courts review the Florida court's decision granting her husband the choice to remove her feeding tube. The federal courts declined to re-open the case, and Schiavo starved to death. On the day of her death, DeLay issued a warning to the judges that "the time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior."
He later called his remarks "inartful."
DeLay has also been on a tear against Kennedy, backed up by conservative leaders who earlier this month attended a conference in which they argued the Ronald Reagan (search) appointee had gone off kilter by opposing the death penalty for juveniles.
One activist at the conference on April 8 said Kennedy's opinion to end an anti-sodomy statute, "upholds Marxist, Leninist, satanic principles drawn from foreign law" and quoted Joseph Stalin in suggesting that if Kennedy were not on the court, then the problem would be solved.
In his Tuesday interview, DeLay did not limit his criticism to Kennedy, though he is the only judge DeLay singled out by name. A spokeswoman for the court, Kathy Arberg, told the Associated Press that Kennedy could not be reached for comment.
DeLay also said that while he supports an independent judiciary, it is the job of the legislature to have checks and balances "so that you don't have an oligarchy of nine people on the Supreme Court separated from everybody else. All wisdom is not vested in nine people on the Supreme
DeLay said it's time for Congress to reassert its authority to review the judiciary, which he argued has been filled with activists who want to legislate from the bench.
"We're opposed to judges that don't follow the Constitution (search) and write their own laws," DeLay said. "And, of course, the left just hates it when we attack the left's last legislative body."
The House has no authority to determine which judges are confirmed for lifetime appointments to the federal bench. But impeachment proceedings do begin in the House.
DeLay said the Judiciary Committee will hold hearings on the clause in the Constitution that says "judges can serve as long as they serve with good behavior.
"We want to define what good behavior means. That's where you have to start," he said.
But even conservative thinkers question whether DeLay is barking up the right tree.
"Criticizing federal justices is not wise for any member of Congress no matter how strong" the support from constituents, Republican strategist Ed Rollins told FOX News.
Added former Texas Democratic Rep. Martin Frost, whose election loss is partly attributed to DeLay's inspiring the state legislature to remap districts to make them more GOP friendly: "Maybe some of his colleagues will send him on a vacation to get him out of the public view for a while."