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Dec 12 2011

Perry and Justice Montemayor

Rick Perry once again put his ignorance on display during an interview with the editors of the Des Moines Register, brain farting on Justice Sotomayor’s name and even on the number of justices on the Supreme Court.

As he railed against “activist” judges, Texas Gov. Rick Perry slipped up on not only the name of one of the Supreme Court justices but also on how many sit on the bench.

“When you see his appointment of two, from my perspective, inarguably activist judges whether it was …” Perry said in the Des Moines Register editorial board meeting, pausing for six seconds. “Not Montemayor …”

“Sotomayor,” a member of the editorial board interrupted.

“Sotomayor, Sotomayor,” Perry said. “And Kagan are both activist judges.”

Shortly after this flub, Perry referred to ”eight unelected” judges when discussing who should decide whether prayer is allowed in schools.

After several major gaffes during debates, he once suggested that perhaps he just shouldn’t have participated in them (and that was before the infamous “oops” moment). Maybe his problem is that he just shouldn’t participate in any public events where he has to speak. Maybe he should run the first private presidential campaign.

“For Washington to tell a local school district that you cannot have a prayer and a time of prayer in that school is, I think, offensive to most Americans. I trust the people of the states to make those decisions. I trust those independent school districts to make those decisions better than eight unelected, and frankly, unaccountable judges,” Perry said.

But the real problem here is not that he can’t remember Justice Sotomayor’s name, or even that he doesn’t know there are nine justices on the court. The real problem is that he is abysmally ignorant of the subject as a whole, clearly not understanding the concept of judicial independence. Based on that ignorance, he engages in pseudo-populist blather about “unelected judges” and their “judicial activism,” a meaningless phrase (which, unfortunately, many Democrats including President Obama have begun to use as well).

You know why those judges are unelected? Because that’s what the constitution requires — the document that conservatives are forever praising and declaring fealty to after it was given to the Founding Fathers by Jesus himself at Mt. Sinai. It was set up that way quite intentionally and with a great deal of forethought, and they explained why they did it with much detail in Federalist 78 and other places.

The point of having an independent, unelected judiciary is the same as the reason we have a Bill of Rights — to prevent the voters and their representatives from violating the rights of others. Alexander Hamilton explained this:

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.

And of course, Perry’s objections to those “unelected judges” telling a local school district that they can’t hold a government-mandated prayer would disappear the moment a mostly Muslim school began having all students, including Christians, pray toward Mecca five times a day. Because this isn’t about freedom, it’s about maintaining Christian hegemony.

26 comments

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  1. 1
    mareap

    You know, my undergraduate Alma Mater, Texas A&M, has many, many quirks. Some are endearing, some just plain weird. Few embarrass me ( other than the money driven machinations of the football program.) But only Rick Perry makes me ashamed to call myself an Aggie.

  2. 2
    keithb

    “For Washington to tell a local school district that you cannot have *separate drinking fountains for colored folks* in that school is, I think, offensive to most Americans. I trust the people of the states to make those decisions. I trust those independent school districts to make those decisions better than eight unelected, and frankly, unaccountable judges,” Perry said.

    (Maybe he only counts 8 because he knows Alito is a good old boy.)

  3. 3
    Michael Heath

    There’s a lot of contradictions and ignorance on display by Gov. Perry.

    I’ll take one, the idea that states have the power to ignore the federal courts and the power to deny people within their jurisdiction the protections afforded to them on an individual basis by the U.S. Constitution.

    Gov. Perry campaigns as a devotee of the Constitution while clearly revealing he is unambiguously its enemy. A credible journal with access should challenge on him on why Americans should elect a person like him that must swear an oath the very thing he effectively seeks to destroy.

    I’d also like to see Gov. Perry and all so-called states’ rights advocates explain why they point to the reference of ‘states’ in the 10th Amendment while avoiding the fact it also lists ‘people’. Ask them to then define the original meaning of people within the context of this Amendment and the Bill of Rights and whether that definition provides powers to the states to deny those very people their constitutionally protected individual rights as Gov. Perry repeatedly advocates.

  4. 4
    reverendrodney

    Idiocy 1:
    “I trust those independent school districts to make those decisions better than eight unelected, and frankly, unaccountable judges,” Perry said.
    Totally disregarding that the Supreme Court is, as established by the Constitution, a branch of government.

    Idiocy 2:
    Eight justices?

    Idiocy 3:
    Secede from the Union.

    Perry is following Cain. A few more lug nuts to go and he too will come off the clown car.

  5. 5
    MikeMa

    Perry’s a fool. He was billed as smart and savvy but once he actually started talking to non-Texans, the cat was out of the bag. Dumb as a rock. He panders with the best (worst?) of them, he can’t hold two thoughts in his head for 5 minutes, he can’t be bothered to learn or understand the subject he is debating, he wallows in cronyism, and he advocates theocratic policy that is clearly unconstitutional.

    His only positive is he seems to be able to keep his dick in his pants. Admirable maybe but hardly a primary consideration for the presidency.

  6. 6
    jameshanley

    Maybe he should run the first private presidential campaign

    Actually, that would be a return to an older style of presidential campaign. And I’m not sure it would be a bad idea if it became the norm again.

  7. 7
    Aquaria

    While Heath rips apart Goodhair for his barely-concealed states-rights dog whistle, I’ll tackle another part:

    For Washington to tell a local school district that you cannot have a prayer and a time of prayer in that school is, I think, offensive to most Americans.

    Dear Rick: Offense and the law are two different things, asshole.

    I trust the people of the states to make those decisions.

    Dear Rick: I don’t. Not when they’re run by moronic fuckfaces like you, elected by even dumber fuckfaces that you want to make more of by depriving them of education, and, hell, even food. My roommate on disability has had you monkey around with his food stamps at least 5 times a year in the past 3 years. You guys seem to have this idea that poor people need to starve. Or that people like me will take them in always.

    They don’t, and not everybody is as nice as me.

    I trust those independent school districts to make those decisions better than eight unelected, and frankly, unaccountable judges,” Perry said.

    I trust those judges who actually, you know, know the fucking law, Rick, not a bunch of podunk christer small town bigots who couldn’t spell ‘the’ if you spotted them the t and the h.

  8. 8
    Aquaria

    His only positive is he seems to be able to keep his dick in his pants.

    Don’t be so sure of that.

  9. 9
    Area Man

    He can’t remember her name, but he’s sure she’s an “activist judge”, whatever that is.

    I think the editorial board should have followed up by asking him to name 3 decisions that Sotomayor and/or Kagan participated in that he disagreed with, and why he found fault with their reasoning. That would have prompted hilarity.

  10. 10
    fifthdentist

    But as I mentioned a couple of days ago, a Florida Republican legislator wants to force all school systems to conform to his wishes by calling the three-week break in December-January “Christmas break” instead of holiday or winter break. Seems like when they’re in charge, the federal government needs to be as big as it takes to impose their stupid on everyone else, launch multi-trillion dollar wars on a tactic and promote the Christianist Taliban. But when they’re not in charge, decisions should be made by the states and local governments who will impose the correct beliefs on the federal government.

    Damn it must be confusing being a Republican.

  11. 11
    umlud

    In related Perry-doesn’t-know-his-facts news:

    Rick Perry thinks that Solyndra is a country
    (http://thinkprogress.org/romm/2011/12/12/387200/rick-perry-thinks-solynda-is-a-country/)

  12. 12
    reverendrodney

    Re umlud @11:
    “Rick Perry thinks that Solyndra is a country.”

    That ices it. Either he is more idiotic that Cain or he is a mole planted by the Democrats.

    Solydra is a country. Wow.

  13. 13
    slc1

    Re MikeMa @ #5

    His only positive is he seems to be able to keep his dick in his pants.

    The scuttlebutt in the Lone Star State is that the governor not only does not keep his dick in his pants but is a switch hitter at where he puts it. Mr. AC/DC in other words.

  14. 14
    carolw

    That’s it! If Perry is elected, I’m moving to Solyndra.

  15. 15
    Area Man

    In related Perry-doesn’t-know-his-facts news:

    Rick Perry thinks that Solyndra is a country
    (http://thinkprogress.org/romm/2011/12/12/387200/rick-perry-thinks-solynda-is-a-country/)

    If we are being charitable, it looks like it was just a slip of the tongue and he meant to say, “company”. The two words sound similar enough, especially for an unpolished speaker.

    But I’m in no mood to be charitable.

  16. 16
    rjmx

    And of course, Perry’s objections to those “unelected judges” telling a local school district that they can’t hold a government-mandated prayer would disappear the moment a mostly Muslim school began having all students, including Christians, pray toward Mecca five times a day. Because this isn’t about freedom, it’s about maintaining Christian hegemony.

    Methinks you give them way too much credit. I doubt very much that they’ve thought it through that far. True, if they got their way with school prayer and then a Muslim school tried to do that, there’d be a fight — but it’d be because everybody knows there’s only one kind of prayer, and whatever that thing is that Muslims do, it isn’t it.

  17. 17
    d cwilson

    But only Rick Perry makes me ashamed to call myself an Aggie.

    These days, Perry is the only thing that makes me grateful to be a Penn Stater.

    If I had been on the editorial board, I would have asked Perry to name a SCOTUS decision by Sotomayor or Kagan that he would consider “activist”.

    But I’m sure that would be considered a “gotcha” question.

  18. 18
    MikeMa

    I have been alerted to a little-recognized (by me) feature of the Perry mystique – Mr AC/DC! Well that explains the virulent anti-gay rhetoric at least as well as his theocratic bullshit. Is it too much to hope he has an account at rentboy.com?

  19. 19
    d cwilson

    @rjmx:

    Of course they haven’t thought it through. That’s exactly why they’re taking the position they are. They’re assuming, “of course any school-led prayer will be a Christian one”.

    These are the same people who are trying to prevent mosques from being built because they’re afraid it will lead to Shariah law being imposed on them. Never mind that their goal is to impose biblical law on everyone else.

  20. 20
    tomh

    Of course, school prayer is a big issue with others too. Probably the most consistent postition Newt Gingrich has had on anything over the years, has been calling for school prayer, from sponsoring a Constitutional Amendment in 2002, right through this year when he called for firing a federal judge who ruled against a prayer at graduation ceremonies. And, unbelievable as it sounds, Gingrich seems to actually have a shot at becoming president.

  21. 21
    LightningRose

    Rick Perry is a stupid person’s idea of what a stupid person sounds like.

  22. 22
    d cwilson

    @LightningRose: Now be fair. He’s also a smart person’s idea of what a stupid person sounds like.

  23. 23
    ArtK

    You know why those judges are unelected? Because that’s what the constitution requires — the document that conservatives are forever praising and declaring fealty to after it was given to the Founding Fathers by Jesus himself at Mt. Sinai. It was set up that way quite intentionally and with a great deal of forethought, and they explained why they did it with much detail in Federalist 78 and other places.

    It’s not the same document at all. What these people worship as the Constitution has no more substance than the flag they worship. It’s not a document laying out the basic rules for a somewhat just government — to them, it’s a symbol of all that’s good with the United States. The fact that their United States is a white Christian paradise and has little to do with what the founders put together is completely lost on them.

    Although not nearly often enough, or firmly enough for me, the judicial branch does occasionally slap them with reality. When someone’s cherished beliefs are shown to be unreal, they may have one of several responses. They may change those beliefs. They may attack the messenger (“unelected judges legislating from the bench”) or they can desperately try to prove that their belief is right and the rest of us are wrong (cf. David Barton &co.)

  24. 24
    chilidog99

    Well to be perfectly fair to the Texas version of Rod Blagojevich, the Constitution does not specify how many justices sit on SCOTUS. Congress does. For a while there were only 7, if I recall correctly.

  25. 25
    sunsangnim

    I know conservatives who still harp on Obama for the “57 states” remark from the 2008 campaign. While it was a stupid gaffe, it was clearly due to fatigue and not a genuine lack of knowledge. Yet every time I bring up a stupid conservative quote that’s obviously lacking common sense, the response is always the same–”Out of context!” “Gotcha question!”

    There’s clearly no reasoning with these people.

  26. 26
    wheatdogg

    It’s a long shot, but maybe Perry was thinking of Associate Judge Charles Montemayor, who presides in Bexar County family court in San Antonio. It’s a pretty common surname, I think.

    He’s still a dumb as a post, though.

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