At a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing on the court's spending request, Representative Todd Tiahrt, Republican of Kansas, veered from the budget issues to press Justice Kennedy.Nice that Kennedy actually responded. So often there's no comment. But I love the cool, measured response that models judicial demeanor. It helps people see that judges function in a different way from politicians, even though the politicians are pushing the proposition that they don't.
"Lately we've had rulings that seem to go beyond the rule of law" and that reflect "outside influence," the congressman told the justice. He pointed to a Supreme Court decision last month barring the execution of those who were juveniles when they committed their crimes. That decision, which was written by Justice Kennedy and which cited international treaties and practices abroad, appeared to reflect "pressure put on by the United Nations and other agencies," Mr. Tiahrt said.
Mr. Tiarht said the court was "not interpreting the Constitution and laws that govern America anymore," and added that his views were shared by people "across the United States."
Justice Kennedy, appearing unruffled, replied mildly that disagreements over the meaning of the Constitution were "a very important part of democratic dialogue." He added, "This give and take is very healthy."
There are also cooler heads among the politicians:
Both Mr. Specter and Mr. Frist said the tone of the Senate fight over judicial nominations and the intense lobbying by outside groups interested in the issue were complicating their efforts to strike a compromise with Democrats and avoid a showdown.And by the way, I thought Senator Schumer did a great job of defending the filibuster on "Meet the Press" last Sunday, even while sitting next to Senator Cornyn, whom you could tell he did not like.
"We need to lower the rhetoric," Mr. Frist said. "For the life of me, I can't understand how we benefit moving America forward and we have the other side of the aisle talking about shutting down government."
UPDATE: Schumer was on "Fox News Sunday," not "Meet the Press." No wonder I couldn't find the transcript.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reading the article more carefully, I see that Justice Kennedy was actually there being confronted, which explains the relatively temperate remarks by Tiahrt (as one of the commenters noted). Intemperate remarks targeting Kennedy for impeachment were made over the weekend, and obviously Kennedy is aware of them. His response when directly confronted was a typical judicial response for that setting, so it actually isn't extraordinary at all. Had he not been there, I don't think he would have offered a comment, and the comment that he did make is really quite close to no comment at all.