VanderPlaats: Defund Courts for Rulings I Disagree With


Iowa wingnut extraordinaire Bob VanderPlaats is mad that Rand Paul isn’t proposing to defund the federal district courts in Kentucky because one judge there overturned the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. Appearing on Steve Deace’s radio show he delivered this diatribe that is staggeringly stupid on multiple levels.

Vander Plaats: If another good friend of ours, Newt Gingrich, was in his position from the state of Kentucky, I can almost guarantee what Newt’s response would have been. It would have been, ‘We need to defund that court, we need to defund that judge. The Congress still holds the power of the purse. If we have courts, if we have judges operating outside of their constitutional authority, let’s pull their meal ticket away.’…

It’s too bad that a senator like Ted Cruz and a senator like Mike Lee have to actually step up for the state of Kentucky when their own senator, Rand Paul, should be doing that.

Deace: What should Rand be doing instead of what he is doing right now, which is basically nothing? What shouldhe be doing instead?

Vander Plaats: Well, I think one thing is that he needs to step up to the microphone. This is his state, this is Kentucky. This is something that runs totally against who he is. I mean, he’s about liberty. And if it’s about liberty, and if you have a judge usurping the will of the people of Kentucky, that runs contrary to liberty. If you believe marriage is a state rights issue and the state of Kentucky says, ‘This is what marriage is to us, one man and one woman, clearly defined,’ then you better stand up to that state rights issue. If you believe what you say you believe, that marriage is foundational and it’s between a man and a woman, which is what he says he believes, then you got to stand up for that, because that’s the law of nature, that’s the law of nature’s God, that’s the Declaration of Independence, which this whole country was founded on.

First of all, he has no idea what liberty is. Overturning a state law that the voters of that state prefer is not a violation of liberty, it’s a rejection of democracy, narrowly defined, and those are not the same thing. They especially aren’t the same thing if the law in question is oppressive. And in fact, that same constitution that he claims to adore so much gives the judiciary the power to do exactly that and gave judges lifetime appointments and complete independence precisely to make that possible.

His demand for Congress to defund courts that hand down rulings he doesn’t like is in stark contradiction to what the founders intended. As Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist 78:

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.

So once again we have a conservative claiming to revere the constitution while advocating policies that violate it quite blatantly.

Comments

  1. bargearse says

    So once again we have a conservative claiming to revere the constitution while advocating policies that violate it quite blatantly.

    hmph, it must be Tuesday.

  2. D. C. Sessions says

    So in fairly short order we have Congress refusing to fund any of the Federal Judiciary.

    Hmmm. How does this square with the Constitutional requirements that (off the top):

    * the remuneration of judges not be reduced during their term of office (life, potentially)?
    * Defendants be given a speedy trial?

    I’m sure that there are others, but those two came to mind immediately.

  3. dmcclean says

    Let’s go to the video review:

    The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behavior, and shall, at stated Times, receive for their Services a Compensation which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office.

  4. had3 says

    DC:
    We resolved the second issue by defunding the Public Defender service during sequestration so there’s no one around to complain about the speedy trial issue. Problem solved!

  5. busterggi says

    Bob VanderPlaats – if you want to be taken seriously don’t use your ‘good friend’ Newt Gingrich, serial philanderer & divorcer, as an example of good family values.

  6. Chiroptera says

    Vander Plaats: …if we have judges operating outside of their constitutional authority….

    Unfortunately for you, dumbass, but fortunately for us, the judges’ constitutional authority isn’t to rule however you want to them to rule.

    Ed: Overturning a state law that the voters of that state prefer is not a violation of liberty, it’s a rejection of democracy, narrowly defined….

    But it is an affirmation of democracy more broadly defined.

    I think any sensible definition of democracy, and certainly the working idea of democracy that most people have, includes the protection of individual liberties and constituional limitations on the state.

  7. John Pieret says

    If you believe marriage is a state rights issue and the state of Kentucky says, ‘This is what marriage is to us, one man and one woman, clearly defined,’ then you better stand up to that state rights issue.

    Well, ironically, it is a “states rights” issue. The Kentucky decision was only about whether Kentucky has to recognize other state’s definitions of marriage. And, since the Windsor decision of SCOTUS, it seems pretty clear that all states have to recognize same sex marriages that are legal in the states they occurred in.

    As to the defunding business, besides the fact that it isn’t going to happen and that they should be kvetching to the members of the House of Representatives, which holds the purse strings, it is typical of these people that they choose the least likely to be effective course of action. A much more defensible plan would be to abolish all Federal courts except the Supreme Court, which is the only one mandated by the Constitution. The rest are “such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish.”

    The idea of abolishing all Federal courts except the Supreme Court has floated around the kookosphere for some time without much effect but at least it has some basis in reality.

  8. cptdoom says

    Bob VanderPlaats – if you want to be taken seriously don’t use your ‘good friend’ Newt Gingrich, serial philanderer & divorcer, as an example of good family values.

    Well, technically he was using Newt Gingrich as an example of a reactionary conservative, which may be pretty on point, but you shouldn’t knock Newt. He is defending the moral proposition that marriage is one man and whatever piece of (female) tail he happens to be banging at the moment.

    This is what marriage is to us, one man and one woman

    And once again we see a conservative who fails to understand the concept of expansion of a right. Men and women can still marry each other in Kentucky. In fact, men and women can get married to one another outside of Kentucky and still have their marriages recognized by the good Commonwealth. Nothing has changed for man/woman marriage.

  9. abb3w says

    @2, D. C. Sessions, to address the second first — and presuming it’s only the judge’s support that was cut out, not their actual paychecks — an irritated Judge could resolve that backlog by sua sponte motions for a mistrial (on the grounds of inadequate resources) and release-on-recognizance of the accused — triaging whatever resources they have to save for the cases for the most urgent, like when the prosecution has a signed confession and CNN footage of a murder. This culling becomes increasingly likely if defunding is so severe to require a judge to hold court in a borrowed high school gym with another judge acting as court clerk. Civil cases do not have such a speedy trial requirement… and no doubt legislative complaints over the abrupt removal of the criminal side of the logjam would be invited to be submitted as a civil lawsuit. The resulting crimewave from the criminal side, however would probably trigger either mass attempted impeachments or a bill to fund the judiciary before civil cases noticed anything beyond ordinary delays.

    As to the first, if Congress was so completely stupid and insane enough to try cutting off the paychecks of the judges themselves (despite the Article III requirement judges MUST get their damn paycheck), some judge would probably file a lawsuit with the DC circuit or SCOTUS — who would all have a conflict of interest, but therefore would not need to recuse because of the special rules for when a conflict of interest would be universal to every judge. Obviously, the judgement would come in favor of the Judge… who could then begin civil proceedings to have some suitable federal property liened, seized, and auctioned off to pay the paycheck. Any judge with the slightest iota of sense of humor might plausibly start by having sheriffs start with the Congressional Parking garage, or perhaps a bunch of furniture from the office of the Speaker of the House. Depending on the depths of congressional insanity, either attempted impeachment or passing a budget to pay the damn judges would again likely follow a completed sale.

    It seems pretty unlikely that even the craziest of Tea Party congresscritters would risk open war between the Legislative and Judicial branches, using THAT tactic. Politically fueled impeachments are obviously a far more viable means, and would almost certainly be inevitablely necessary if gross judicial defunding were attempted, anyway. Neither Rand nor Newt (nor even Michelle Bachmann) seem quite so far into cloud-cuckooland as to be unable to realize this. As such, Vander Plaats is clearly an insane ignoramus.

    Nohow, I am not a lawyer, judge, nor politician.

  10. Ben P says

    an irritated Judge could resolve that backlog by sua sponte motions for a mistrial (on the grounds of inadequate resources) and release-on-recognizance of the accused

    Actually, that is exactly what happens.

    We had a scandal in my state about two months ago, where due primarily to political BS, a prosecutor had not gotten any substnatial work done in almost a year, and was way behind on his caseload as well as trials.

    One of the circuit court judges decided enough was enough, denied further motions for continuance, and dismissed dozens of felony criminal cases that had been filed by the prosecutor, but had gone for a year or more without trials. This was up to and including serious Y felonies (Highest level except for death penalty cases). Needless to say, that garned a lot of bad press.

  11. abb3w says

    Ben, that’s actually a hair more severe than what I suggested. In your (apparently actual) example, the dismissal is not as a mistrial for which the prosecution might try to refile after the resources are there, but simply a dismissal of the charges — for which under double jeopardy the defendant is now precluded from being re-tried.

    However, it does illustrate why no-one in their right mind pisses off a judge in the judge’s courtroom.

    (Just out of curiosity — bad press for the judge, or the prosecutor?)

  12. vmanis1 says

    I should point out that Mr Vander Plaats did manage to get three Iowa Supreme Court judges defeated in 2010 because of their participation in the majority decision on marriage equality. He may think that makes him eligible for promotion to Ayatollah, but my guess is that, in a few years, that election will be seen as a historical quirk on the order of the passage of Prop 8 in California: a wrong turn that was corrected in relatively short order thereafter.

  13. felidae says

    If we were to uphold biblical laws about marriage, there would be a huge pile of rocks with Newt underneath

  14. Michael Heath says

    felidae writes:

    If we were to uphold biblical laws about marriage, there would be a huge pile of rocks with Newt underneath

    No, it’d be his wives under those rocks. Newt might have to pay a nominal fine though.

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