Many of the speeches targeted the Supreme Court's power and what the writers of the Constitution intended the justices' role to be.This familiar rhetoric would drive me crazy to have to sit through, I must say. There's no detail or serious analysis of the kind that would be interesting to someone who has studied law. These are ridiculous overstatements, and I'd be embarrassed to be sitting still listening to such empty jabbering.
"All wisdom does not reside in nine persons in black robes," House Majority Leader Tom DeLay told the crowd. "The Constitution is clear on the point that the power to make laws is vested on Congress."
The president of The Catholic League, Bill Donahue, suggested a constitutional amendment to say that "unless a judicial vote is unanimous, you cannot overturn a law created by Congress."
The court is trying to "take the hearts and souls of our culture," he said.
Dobson evoked the framers of the Constitution, saying: "These activist, unelected judges believe they know better than the American people about the direction the country should go. The framers of our great nation did not intend for the courts to have absolute and final power over us."
Why did I consider going? I received an invitation, offering to pay my expenses. Unlike Jeff Jarvis, I didn't consider this an ethical challenge. I'm not a journalist. I'm a law professor. Lawprofs get invited to conferences and have their expenses paid all the time. Jarvis thinks there's a problem when an organization essentially pays to have its event covered. I don't object when some law school pays my way to a symposium, though I suppose I could view it as their self-promotion.
But I didn't go, partly because I'm busy, but partly because the content of the speeches would be very tedious to me, and the blogging I would do would be about the people. It would be a very strange milieu for me. Describing it and my reaction to it would be quite intriguing, but it was much too much trouble for me to go to to feel as uneasy as I imagined I would.
Charmaine Yoest was there and also has links to all the other bloggers who were there.
Here's Captain Ed's live-blog of the event. I'm going to read through this and think about what it would have been like for me to be on-site. Excerpts:
6:35 - Tony Perkins pushing the "Save The Court" kit. He wants people to hold small meetings in their homes to play the DVD of this program. It's free, I think. They're also promoting Ten Commandment bookk covers for school textbooks. It sounds clever, but can you imagine going to a public school and having your parents make you use them? You'd need body armor to get through the day.It sounds as though the event was well run, but I'm hardly sorry I wasn't there. The obsession with homosexuality is tiresome – quite aside from its wrongheadedness. And "judicial activism" really is a bland topic, even though people get all excited about it. We all want judges to do some things and not others. One of the things the speakers complained about was the Kelo case, but that was an example of restraint, not activism. The Court declined to enforce a right. And these speakers don't like too much Establishment Clause enforcement, but I'll bet they moan about not enough Free Exercise protection.
6:38 - We have another reference to a 'right' to homosexual sodomy. I'm no fan of the Lawrence decision, but why pick on 'homosexual' sodomy? It sounds like sodomy doesn't bother them at all, just the homosexuals. Can we just drop the footstamping about homosexuality?...
6:58 - Zell Miller, for once, got a chance to sound calmer than the act he preceded. He gave a good speech, exhorting the audience to be "doers of the Word" and not just listeners. Very impressive.
7:03 - Jett Williams cut her song a bit short; according to the schedule we have, the program may be running a couple of minutes long. Now we have Phyllis Schlafly speaking, talking about judicial supremacy. She talks about the "heresy" of the notion that the Supreme Court decisions are the supreme law of the land. "Heresy", I think, is a particularly bad choice of words here.
7:08 - Phyllis does better with her baseball analogy than Tony Perkins did with his. She pointed out that umpires can't change the rules by, say, calling batters out with only two strikes. I said "better", not "great".
It doesn't sound to me as though the speakers penetrated one millimeter into the political veneer. I detect no interest in a real understanding of law and courts. Complaining about the courts being too political, they are too political.