Sunday, April 10, 2005

Judges

I haven't written anything about the authoritarian war on judges, which is really a shame. I think this is where they'll jump the shark. (This is the term which refers to the moment in a TV show where it can't escape its own inertia, and has to resort to bigger and bigger stunts to escape the now inevitable collapse.)

The current action in congress was precipitated by judges ruling within the law on the Terri Schiavo case. There was a bizarre conference, rebroadcast on CSPAN, in which various leading lights of the authoritarian movement argued for
  1. mass impeachment of judges
  2. Congressional action to limit the scope of judicial review
  3. Presidential authority to dismiss judges
  4. assassination
For the last one, look at the Washington Post coverage, one of the best news articles I've seen in a while.
Ominously, Vieira continued by saying his "bottom line" for dealing with the Supreme Court comes from Joseph Stalin. "He had a slogan, and it worked very well for him, whenever he ran into difficulty: 'no man, no problem,' " Vieira said.

The full Stalin quote, for those who don't recognize it, is "Death solves all problems: no man, no problem."
Anyway, Kansas Families United for Public Education, El Centro, and the Mainstream Coalition are having a rally to defend judges in Kansas. The Kansas Supreme Court ruled that the state was providing insufficient funding to the state's schools. In response, the legislature passed a piss-poor funding bill, and is trying to limit judicial independence. As we say here at TfK, it's all one piece.

Here's their announcement:

As the Vast Right Wing Asylum mounts a frightening assault on both judges (human beings) and the concept of an independent judiciary (a fundamental bedrock principle of American democracy), the counterattack in defense of those people and that principle begins Tuesday in Topeka, Kansas.

Kansas Families United for Public Education (KFUPE), a three-year-old grassroots organization of parents, students, teachers and taxpayers committed to quality public schools and the separation of church and state, is hosting a rally on the steps of the state capitol. The purpose of the rally is to demonstrate broad and deep public support for the justices of the Kansas Supreme Court, which has ordered the state legislature to overhaul an unfair statewide school funding system that shortchanges poor, disabled and non-English-speaking students while underfunding all public schools statewide.

The rally is scheduled for Tuesday April 12, the deadline the justices gave the legislature to act in a ruling handed down in January. A state legislature dominated by extreme religious conservatives passed a school funding bill that actually INCREASES the legal authority for the richest school districts to raise money on their own while adding only a pittance to at-risk and ESL funding. This is despite the fact that several districts with a high percentage of poor and ESL students sued the state and WON the lawsuit. The legislature is inviting a showdown with the court so they can use the justices as foils in a political theater production.

Our rally is designed to place the responsibility and the blame for this confrontation where it belongs -- in the laps of a legislative leadership that has demonstrated no respect for the state Constitution or the rule of law, and no regard for the schoolchildren who are the future of Kansas.
If you can make it, meet on the steps of the capitol at 4:30 p.m. Central on Tuesday. And thanks to KFUPE president Martellaro for the heads-up.