Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Cornyn Backtracks Fast

Senator Jon Cornyn is doing the foot-in-mouth two step, backing away from his comments the other day about violence against judges while, of course, claiming he didn’t really say what he is now making clear he didn’t mean. So let’s take a look at what he said on Monday, with the transcript from his own website:

Finally, I don’t know if there is a cause-and-effect connection, but we have seen some recent episodes of courthouse violence in this country — certainly nothing new; we seem to have run through a spate of courthouse violence recently that has been on the news. 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 to the point where some people engage in violence, certainly without any justification, but that is a concern I have that I wanted to share.

The context of this is his criticism of the Supreme Court for citing foreign courts and not adhering to a (his version of a) strictly originalist position when deciding cases. And here he muses that perhaps the recent cases of judges being murdered might be the result of judges making “political” decisions. There have been two recent cases of violence against judges. In Atlanta, a serial rapist on trial overpowered a deputy, took her gun, and shot up the courtroom, killing the judge and 3 others. In Chicago, the family of a judge was killed by a man who had recently lost a medical malpractice suit ruled on by that judge. That same judge had been the target of a previous attempt to have her killed by a white supremacist who was, just yesterday, sentenced to 40 years in prison for solicitation of murder. Now, only an idiot or a demagogue would detect even the remotest link between these personal grudges against judges who ruled against specific clients and judges making non-originalist decisions. Does anyone really think that the Atlanta rapist was really motivated by his anger at the Supreme Court for citing European courts in a death penalty decision? Only the most dull among us would be dumb enough to suggest such a thing. But that is exactly what Cornyn did. And here is his defense, also from his website:

But I want to make one thing clear. I am not aware of any evidence whatsoever linking recent acts of courthouse violence to the various controversial rulings that have captured the Nation’s attention in recent years.

My point was, and is, simply this: We should all be concerned that the judiciary is losing respect that it needs to serve the interests of the American people well. We should all want judges who interpret the law fairly — not impose their own personal views on the Nation. We should all want to fix our broken judicial confirmation process. And we should all be disturbed by overheated rhetoric about the judiciary from both sides of the aisle. I regret that my remarks have been taken out of context to create a wrong impression about my position, and possibly be construed to contribute to the problem rather than to a solution. Our judiciary must not be politicized. Rhetoric about the judiciary and about judicial nominees must be toned down. Our broken judicial confirmation process must be fixed once and for all.

How absurd. If that was his point, then there was no need whatsoever to speculate about recent incidents of violence against judges or to attempt to make a connection between those incidents and the behavior he was criticizing. His words were not “taken out of context”, they were entirely irrelevant to the context, and abysmally stupid to boot. You got caught saying something stupid, Senator. So why not just own up to it and stop blaming others for actually listening to what you said?


  1. #1 CPT_Doom
    April 7, 2005

    “We should all be concerned that the judiciary is losing respect that it needs to serve the interests of the American people well.”

    IIRC, about the only judicial decision that the left has complained about was the Supreme Court decision in the 2000 Presidential race (personally, I believed the whole thing should have been thrown over to the House of Representatives, as the Constitution dictates). All the other complaining about the judiciary has come from right-wing, often extreme right-wing, groups that are unhappy with decisions that do not follow their moral code.

    So I find even the notion of judges not serving “the interests of the American people” with their decisions disturbing. Judges are not concerned with the interests of the American people, they are concerned (or should be) with the law.

  2. #2 Morat
    April 7, 2005

    Oh, come on — we all know what’s he doing. It’s a classic “Lovely house you have here, Judge. Would be a shame if something happened to it….” ploy.

  3. #3 Morat
    April 7, 2005

    I see you noted that reasoning already, in reference to other Congressional judicial wingnuttery.

  4. #4 Mark Paris
    April 7, 2005

    “We should all be concerned that the judiciary is losing respect…”

    Hmm, who is it that’s bashing the courts so that people lose respect for them? Wouldn’t that be people like Cornyn?

  5. #5 David Mazel
    April 7, 2005

    And just who is it that is engaging in all the “overheated rhetoric” that needs to be “toned down”? I still can’t stop laughing.

  6. #6 spyder
    April 7, 2005

    The old “out of context” rebuttal is getting a bit worn these days. Cornyn needed to have stopped about four words after the opening word “Finally.” He doesn’t know what he is talking about. He certainly was grandstanding and in doing so succeeded. We are discussing his outlandish comment. He has taken a hit for Frist and DeLay, calling attention on himself and away from their skullduggery. Following his logic, that 2000 Supreme Court decision that literally appointed Bush president should have inspired those on the left to cause physical violence on those five judges. I doubt that was what he meant.

  7. #7 *** Dave
    April 7, 2005

    “Our judiciary must not be politicized.”

    Pardon me while I have a very large coughing fit.

  8. #8 raj
    April 8, 2005

    Problem is, Cornyn was a member of the judiciary. The Texas judiciary. Rumored to be the best judiciary that money can buy. And buy. And buy…. (Continuing ad nauseum)

  9. #9 Dave S.
    April 8, 2005

    (Continuing ad nauseum)

    That’s spelled ad nauseam.

    I know it’s nit-picky raj, and like I should be talking about spelling, but it’s a pet peeve of mine.

    That, and “irregardless”.


  10. #10 raj
    April 8, 2005

    Sorry, Dave. I don’t do Latin. I do do German though. I had wondered if I should have said “ad infinitum” but that’s probably misspelled, too 😉

    Seriously, thanks for the correction. I’ll use it the next time I use the reference.

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