Barton: Impeach Judges I Disagree With


To give you an idea of just how crazed David Barton is, look at what he said on a recent radio show. He says Congress should impeach any judge who issues a ruling they don’t like. And he starts with this illogical argument:

Barton: Well, the first part is they’re not appointed for life. That’s one of the things that people think today and this is one of the great judicial myths that’s out there that’s absolutely not accurate. If you go back and look at the Constitution, Article III deals with the judiciary; there’s nothing in there about judges being appointed for life. They’re not appointed for life.

What they did, and what they also did in the federal Constitution, when you read it it says federal judges are allowed to hold their appointments for the quote ‘duration of good behavior.’ That’s not a lifetime appointment – that’s as long as you act right you can stay there as a federal judge. But if you don’t act right, we’re going to take you out.


By this “reasoning” the president isn’t elected for a four year term because they can be impeached at any time. Brilliant.

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!

Let me repeat what Alexander Hamilton said about the necessity of an independent judiciary:

The complete independence of the courts of justice is peculiarly essential in a limited Constitution. By a limited Constitution, I understand one which contains certain specified exceptions to the legislative authority; such, for instance, as that it shall pass no bills of attainder, no ex-post-facto laws, and the like. Limitations of this kind can be preserved in practice no other way than through the medium of courts of justice, whose duty it must be to declare all acts contrary to the manifest tenor of the Constitution void. Without this, all the reservations of particular rights or privileges would amount to nothing.

If Congress were to start impeaching judges because they disagree with a ruling, judicial independence is destroy — and so is the very idea of a Bill of Rights.

Comments

  1. rwahrens says

    If Congress were to start impeaching judges because they disagree with a ruling, judicial independence is destroy — and so is the very idea of a Bill of Rights.

    …and just what do you think their goal is? Bingo! Destruction of our Constitution as we know it today, so they can substitute their batshit crazy theology.

  2. says

    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?

    Okay, how can somebody pretend to be a constitutional historian and say that “God” is mentioned in the US Constitution. Or pretend that the Declaration of Independence has anything to do with the current system of government in the United States.

    Oh, I forgot. This is David Barton we’re talking about here.

  3. MikeMa says

    Barton, dissembler to morons. Some conservative folks I know even recognize Barton as a fool. ‘No primary sources’, says my friend when I bring up Barton’s name at a party. Good for my friend, conservative but smart. So few around it seems.

  4. Michael Heath says

    MikeMa:

    ‘No primary sources’, says my friend when I bring up Barton’s name at a party.

    Well, that’s not true. Mr. Barton cites plenty of primary sources, he just misconstrues the meaning coming from the source.

  5. harold says

    But if you don’t act right, we’re going to take you out.

    Nice little dog whistle, plausibly deniable implied approval of assassination. The true nuts will get the message and the media can be pompously outraged if anyone else notices and mentions it.

  6. says

    The fun thing is, if a Democratic Congress ever decided to impeach a conservative judge for ruling the “wrong way”, the Bartons of the world would scream bloody murder and declare it an act of tyranny, a clear violation of the Constitution, the road to dictatorship, etc. And they would do it without a hint of irony, being completely unable or unwilling to understand that it’s their policy being used by the duly elected majority.

    You cannot reason with people who think that they occupy a special place in the body politic and that the same rules that apply to everyone else do not apply to them. You can only hope to keep them as far away from power as possible.

  7. D. C. Sessions says

    If Congress were to start impeaching judges because they disagree with a ruling, judicial independence is destroy — and so is the very idea of a Bill of Rights.

    Sounds like an idea whose time has come, doesn’t it?

    I realize that there’s zero chance of the current Senate removing President Obama from office, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all if the House passed a bill of impeachment at a strategic moment next year.

    And, should the Republicans ever get the requisite numbers in the Senate, I am quite sure that they would embark on a thorough purge of the Federal judiciary (needless to say, complete with a very thorough packing of the courts with junior editions of Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito.)

  8. gingerbaker says

    “Nice little dog whistle, plausibly deniable implied approval of assassination. The true nuts will get the message and the media can be pompously outraged if anyone else notices and mentions it.”

    No need for you to have such an ungenerous interpretation. Barton explained at length the process he had in mind, and it did not involve assassination. Of people, anyway.

  9. eric says

    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?

    That’s not going to happen because Congresscritters are generally smarter than Barton. Most of them understand that they’re probably not going to be the one who looks good coming out of a head-to-head public debate with a sitting circuit court Judge on a matter of law.

  10. DaveL says

    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?

    I know this is going to sound crazy, but what if instead, we just had judges write out the legal reasoning behind their judgements at length – for all decisions except perhaps the most banal and routine. We could call these “opinions” and have them put into the public record along with the rulings themselves. On panels with more than one judge we could also have the minority prepare one or more “dissents” explaining how they disagree with the ruling of the majority.

  11. Tim DeLaney says

    Article III, Section 1 says in part: “The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behaviour, … ”

    Section 3 says in part: “The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments … ”

    Since it is the Senate itself–not a Senate committee–that has the sole power to impeach, the Judiciary Committee has no authority to compel any judge to come before it and explain a decision. What Barton advocates explicitly is naked intimidation. Sort of like the president sending a battalion of armed marines to oversee a meeting of the Senate.

    Barton is a dangerous madman.

  12. Tim DeLaney says

    DaveL:

    I like it! It doesn’t sound too crazy to me. Do you think your idea has any chance of catching on?

  13. Hercules Grytpype-Thynne says

    how can somebody pretend to be a constitutional historian and say that “God” is mentioned in the US Constitution.

    Well,

    done in Convention by the Unanimous Consent of the States present the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven and of the Independance of the United States of America the Twelfth In witness whereof We have hereunto subscribed our Names,

    If you’re desperate to find God in the document, that’s apparently enough to satisfy you.

  14. MikeMa says

    @Tim DeLaney,
    No chance in Bartonland.

    The idea that a paper (video) trail exists is anathema to most politicians and all rw demagogues.

  15. vmanis1 says

    I imagine that if Congress ever did summon a judge for this purpose, s/he would refuse, citing the separation of powers. However, I can still fantasize about one of the snarkier judges showing up to say `I shall read my opinion on this case to you, slowly and carefully, so that you can understand it. If you want me to explain any of the words, please feel free to do so.’

  16. says

    DaveL:

    By gum, you’ve got a great idea there! Quick! Forward it to Congress! They should implement this immediately!

    Wow you’re fast! You’re like one of those neutrinos! You not only delivered the idea to Congress, but implemented it so that the “opinions” and “dissents” have been written in every judiciary case that I can find! Bravo!

  17. says

    As much as the right loves to wrap themselves in the Constitution and praise it’s virtues, it’s obvious they despise it because it doesn’t let them do anything they want to do.

    When I was growing up all I heard about in school was how we had three branches of government established by the Constitution specifically to prevent any one from going to far.

    The right would like nothing more than to eliminate the judiciary branch and destroy one of the most basic underpinnings of our governmental system specifically because it does exactly what it is supposed to do.

  18. inquisitiveraven says

    I’m surprised that no one else has brought this up, but it seems to me that normal people would interpret “for the duration of good behavior,” to mean as long as they aren’t accused (or possibly convicted) of any felonies. So, getting caught taking bribes, as happened with several Philadelphia judges in the 1980s is a valid reason for impeachment; the legislature disagreeing with a ruling is not.

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