Congress Assaults the Courts, Again
During consideration of an appropriations bill for the Departments of State, Justice and Commerce, Representative John Hostettler, Republican of Indiana, introduced an amendment to prohibit any funds from being used to enforce Russelburg v. Gibson County. In that case, a federal court ruled that a courthouse Ten Commandments display violated the First Amendment and had to be removed. Mr. Hostettler declared that the ruling was unconstitutional, and inconsistent with "the Christian heritage of the United States."This reader thinks it somehow wrong for Congress to exercise its responsibility with respect to budget writing.
Since the Supreme Court decided Marbury v. Madison in 1803, it has been clearly established that the courts have the ultimate power to interpret the Constitution. But right-wing ideologues, unhappy with some of the courts' rulings, have begun to question this principle as part of a broader war on the federal judiciary. The amendment that passed this week reflected an effort to use Congress's power to stop the courts from standing up for the First Amendment and other constitutional principles.First, Marbury vs Madison is the reason that liberals and leftists™ can use the Courts to force the creation of "laws" that would never pass muster in a democratic process. The democratic process is overturned by exercise of judicial power and establishment of law by judicial fiat - which is something that liberals like.
Secondly, the Courts DO NOT stand up for the First Amendment and they create "constitutional principles" as needed to support desired results. The discovery of a "constitutional right to privacy" is just such a case and was needed to find a "constitutional right to abortion" for mothers who wish to kill their children. All the while the Courts are being willingly used to remove all specifically Christian expression from public life (with no similar effort against other faiths).
The budget amendment was truly radical. The genius of the American system is that the founders carefully balanced power among three coequal branches. Mr. Hostettler's amendment would throw out this brilliant structure, and 200 years of constitutional history, and make Congress the final interpreter of the Constitution. If the amendment succeeded, Congress would no doubt begin designating other cases and constitutional doctrines the courts would be barred from enforcing.Since Marbury vs Madison the branches of government have not been coequal. The Supreme Court has the power to overturn any laws or actions of all other branches of government. It is just a matter of getting someone to file the lawsuit. Congress has every right and responsibility to "begin designating other cases and constitutional doctrines the courts would be barred from enforcing". Additionally, it is entirely up to the President whether or not to spend budgeted money or to implement enforcement of any Court rulings - so he gets to exercise power too.
There is little doubt that if the amendment became law it would itself be held unconstitutional, but it should not reach that point. The Senate should show the responsibility, and respect for the founders' vision, that the House did not and excise this offensive provision.It is true that the amendment would wrongly be ruled unconstitutional as the Courts will not tolerate any weakening of their power. The Senate should support this amendment and act to preserve democratic power.
This letter is a fine example of the liberal's desire to allow the Courts to circumvent democratic processes and continue its assault on free speech.