Right-Wing Assault on Democracy -- Where Was the Press?
We just saw this item posted on DailyKos and could not believe that this story has recieved no media attention whatsoever. A bill has been introduced in the House and the Senate that represents a profound threat to our democracy -- actually, it was introduced last February -- but you'd never know it from reading the papers.
Senators Zell Miller, Richard Shelby, Sam Brownback, Lindsay Graham and others have sponsored the Constitution Restoration Act of 2004, which prevents the Supreme Court and federal courts from hearing cases that involve actions by an elected or appointed official undertaken on the basis of that official's belief in God. An identical bill has been introduced in the House.
Backers insist that the legislation is designed to prevent the courts from reviewing cases involving public nativity scenes, displays of the Ten Commandments and the like. But Yurica Report notes that "the law is drawn broadly and expressly includes the acknowledgment of God as the sovereign source of law by an official in his capacity of executing his office." Thus any if a public official cites his religious beliefs as the basis for a decision, action or piece of legislation (presumably including this law itself) then the decision or action would be exempt from judicial review .
A key section of the law reads:
Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, the Supreme Court shall not have jurisdiction to review, by appeal, writ of certiorari, or otherwise, any matter to the extent that relief is sought against an element of Federal, State, or local government, or against an officer of Federal, State, or local government (whether or not acting in official personal capacity), by reason of that element's or officer's acknowledgement of God as the sovereign source of law, liberty, or government.
The legislation was allegedly drafted by Herb Titus, the attorney for Judge Roy "Ten Commandments" Moore, on behalf of a group known as "Dominionists" that includes members of Congress. Titus was also the first dean of Pat Robertson's school of public policy. Robertson himself is allegedly a key theorist of Dominionism, and he has been explicit in his belief that Christians can and should take control of the government and limit the power of the courts. The "restoration" referred to in the legislation's title is thus the restoration of the Constitution to what Dominionists believe is an appropriate subservience to biblical law.
Think it can't happen here? The bill already has 34 sponsors in the House and seven in the Senate. It is currently in committees and we are following up on the current status of the discussion.
Get into the subject on TheocracyWatch if you want to really get chills -- especially the part that draws out connections between these Dominionists and aspects of the Texas Republican Party platform which includes calling for an end to criminal penalties for people who "oppose homosexuality" for religious reasons -- essentially decriminalizing hate crimes against gay people, abortion providers, etc.
You are mopping the cold sweat off your brow and thinking, even if this passed somehow, the Supreme Court would never allow it to stand. Well, consider the fact that at least two justices are nearing retirement. It is extremely likely that Bush will pack the Supreme Court in the next four years.
Can you hear us screaming from here to wherever you may be sitting?