Thanks to Ann Coulter (for whom I have no respect, even when we agree... oh wait!... I don't think that has ever happened) and Jerry Carter (for whom I do have much respect, even when we disagree, which is often, but that's okay), for proving the point of my earlier post about the Terri Schiavo case. While I believe that Jerry is certainly motivated by genuine concern for Ms. Schiavo, his argument against the independence of the judiciary is exactly what I said this case is really about. While many caring individuals with genuine belief that the body of Ms. Schiavo still contains the force of her life (her soul, or whatever term they may think appropriate) certainly do consider this case to be important in it's own right, the GOP politicians in Washington care about it only as a wedge issue in their next battle: the battle to gain control of the courts. Whether Ann Coulter is motivated by anything other than pure self-aggrandizement, I don't know... but I tend to doubt it.
Jerry's essay is representative of what many in the GOP point out, particulary when he writes about judges being "appointed, in many cases for life", as if that were (a) true, and (b) a bad thing. That argument neglects to mention that judges are appointed and confirmed, and that they can be impeached. Sure, it's hard to impeach judges and most will indeed serve "for life", but then again it's also hard to get them appointed and confirmed -- and increasingly so in the past 20 years, as both parties have availed themselves of the full extent of their power in the legislative branch to erect roadblocks to controversial appointments. That's the way it's supposed to be. More than any other position in our system of government, it needs to be very hard to become a judge, and it needs to be very hard to get rid of a judge. That argument also neglects the one fact that was so glaringly obvious to the framers of the constitution: that insulating judges from the electoral process is a vitally important check against corruption. With special interest money in this day and age having such profound influence in the Executive and Legislative electoral processes, it is an even more vital check today than it was in the framers' time. Want a judgement reversed? Mobilize the PACs and pour in the campaign money to buy yourself a new judge! I can think of a lot of people who would like the system to work that way, and I'll be forever thankful that we have an independent judiciary to stand up to them. It takes the support of 67 elected officials to appoint and confirm Federal judges, and those 67 officials are collectively backed by more than 100 million votes cast over up to six years of elections, and more to the point: many special interests operating on a national scale exert influence those 67 officials. You can't buy your way past that. Certainly not as easily as a single-issue advocacy group could buy individual elections at the Federal district or even at the circuit level.