"I believe in an independent judiciary. I repeat, of course I believe in an independent judiciary," DeLay said.
At the same time, he added, the Constitution gives Congress power to oversee the courts.
"We set up the courts. We can unset the courts. We have the power of the purse," DeLay said.
It's true, there are congressional checks on the judiciary, but we expect you to exercise them responsibly. The really effective congressional check, however, is the Senate's power to confirm. DeLay, not being in the Senate, is left to chatter about impeachment (ridiculous), the "power of the purse" (underfund the courts? that's just destructive), and cutting back jurisdiction (show me the proposal and I'll comment). In short, he's just saber-rattling, or as I prefer to call it "purse swinging." I know he's hot to keep some sort of Schiavo-momentum going. But the serious debate about judges is the one going on in the Senate.
UPDATE: And here's the NYT front-page article on DeLay and the judiciary. The subheading in the paper NYT is "Unyielding, DeLay Steps Up Attacks on Judiciary Over Schiavo Case." So what is it -- backing down or stepping up? I see the Times is also calling it his "crusade against judges" -- leveraging religion into the prose. Here's how the Times presents the material that was in the AP article linked above:
"Of course I believe in an independent judiciary," [DeLay] said. He also apologized for the impeachment comment, even as he insisted it was well within the purview of Congress to rein in the courts.
"Sometimes I get a little more passionate," Mr. DeLay said, "particularly during the moment and the day that Terri Schiavo was starved to death. Emotions were flowing."
"I said something in an inartful way," he added, "and I shouldn't have said it that way, and I apologize. I apologize for saying it that way. It was taken wrong, and I didn't explain or clarify my remarks as I'm clarifying them here."
Mr. DeLay was not specific about what legislative changes, if any, he would like to see emerge from the Judiciary Committee's review. But in announcing that he had asked Representative F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., a Wisconsin Republican and the committee chairman, to examine the actions of federal judges in the Schiavo case, Mr. DeLay said the House had previously passed legislation limiting the jurisdiction of the courts and breaking up the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, a bill that died in the Senate.
"We set the jurisdiction of the courts," Mr. DeLay said. "We set up the courts. We can unset the courts."
I think he's backing down. And note how bereft of ideas about legislative changes he is.