Thursday, March 31, 2005

Conservative Judge Says Prez and Congress Overstepped Authority

Did ya hear? JL Edmondson, the most conservative federal judge in the country, ripped both the President and Congress for overstepping their respective authority. It's true! The same Uber-Conservative who ruled that it was okay to make sex toys illegal in alabama, wrote this opinion (PDF format) on Congress' actions in the Schiavo case. Some choice bits (lots of cutting, all emphasis mine):
An axiom in the study of law is that "hard facts make bad law." The tragic events that have afflicted Mrs. Schiavo and that have been compounded by the resulting passionate inter-family struggle and media focus certainly qualify as "hard facts." And, while the members of her family and the members of Congress have acted in a way that is both fervent and sincere, the time has come for dispassionate discharge of duty. A popular epithet directed by some members of society, including some members of Congress, toward the judiciary involves the denunciation of "activist judges." Generally, the definition of an "activist judge" is one who decides the outcome of a controversy before him according to personal conviction, even one sincerely held, as opposed to the dictates of the law as constrained by legal precedent and, ultimately, our Constitution. In resolving the Schiavo controversy it is my judgment that, despite sincere and altruistic motivation, the legislative and executive branches of our government have acted in a manner demonstrably at odds with our Founding Fathers’ blueprint for the governance of a free people -- our Constitution. Since I have sworn, as have they, to uphold and defend that Covenant, I must respectfully concur in the denial of the request for rehearing en banc.
It is axiomatic that the Framers established a constitutional design based on the principles of separation of powers... (noting that separation of powers is one of the governmental principles “on which the whole American fabric has been erected”). The Framers established three coequal but separate branches of government, each with the ability to exercise checks and balances on the two others. And to preserve this dynamic, the “Constitution mandates that ‘each of the three general departments of government [must remain] entirely free from the control or coercive influence, direct or indirect, of either of the others.’” Mistretta v. United States ... (1989) ... Because of the important constitutional role assigned to the judiciary by the Framers in safeguarding the Constitution and the rights of individuals, see Federalist No. 78 (A. Hamilton), the execution of this constitutional mandate is particularly important when legislative acts encroach upon the independence of the judiciary. ...(citing Federalist No. 48 for the proposition that the Framers enshrined in the Constitution separation of powers principles because of past legislative interference with the judiciary); Northern Pipeline Co. v. Marathon Pipeline Co., 458 ... (1982) (“[T]he independence of the judiciary [must] be jealously guarded.”). Accordingly, we risk imperiling our constitutional design if we do not inquire as to whether Pub. L. 109-3 infringes on the independence of the judiciary guaranteed by Article III of the United States Constitution.
And the payoff:
...while Congress may grant jurisdiction to a federal court consistent with [this Act], it may not “assume[] a function that more properly is entrusted to” the judiciary... By arrogating vital judicial functions to itself in the passage of the provisions of [this Act], Congress violated core constitutional separation principles, it prescribed a “rule of decision” and acted unconstitutionally.
If you want to read all 30 pages yourself, you can find it here.

No comments: