WASHINGTON – Are relations between lawmakers and judges better with Democrats in control of Congress? Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg seems to think so, according to a talk on judicial independence she gave at a recent judges' conference.
"Particularly since the 2006 election, I am pleased to relate, rapport between Congress and the federal courts has markedly improved," Ginsburg said at a meeting of American and Canadian judges in Vancouver.
No bills limiting judges' independence have been introduced in the current Congress and "one sees far fewer broadsides against 'activist judges' reported in the press," Ginsburg said.
Democrats, it should be noted, won majorities in both the House and Senate in November 2006. Ginsburg was appointed by President Clinton, a Democrat.
She recounted with distaste comments about judges made in 2005 by two Texas Republicans, then-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and Sen. John Cornyn.
DeLay was frustrated by the federal judges who refused to order a feeding tube for severely brain damaged Terri Schiavo, despite Congress' passage of a law giving the federal courts jurisdiction to review her case. "The time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior," DeLay said after Schiavo died.
Shortly after a federal judge's mother and husband were killed and a state court judge was shot to death on the bench in Atlanta, Cornyn said, "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."
The justice did not identify DeLay or Cornyn by name in her remarks, but used their quotes.