April 12, 2005

Assault on the Courts: Religious Extremism in America

New York Court of Appeals hearing oral argumentsIt looks like the Terri Schiavo case is going to be much more important than most of us realized. As the details of the case emerged, I figured that the primary impact would be focusing national attention on the right-to-die issue or even what Republicans are referring to as "the culture of life." I was wrong. Rather than stimulating a dialogue on relevant end-of-life issues (e.g., an individual’s right to die with dignity, medical decision making, etc.), the real importance of the Schiavo case was that it served as the impetus for an all-out Republican assault on the judiciary.

In the latest example of how the Christian right has taken over the Republican party, Republicans are loudly claiming that “activist judges” are attacking religion (of course, we all know that they only case about one particular religion). Tom Delay, a man who epitomizes the close-minded bigotry that has come to characterize extremist Christians in America, even referred to a “judicial war on faith” as he made thinly veiled threats toward American judges.

If this isn’t clear and convincing evidence that Delay and pals desire a Christian theocracy, I am not sure what would be! Lest this be dismissed as another example of Delay’s insanity, it is important to remember that President Bush has repeatedly spoken about “activist judges.”

Do we need to take this seriously? Isn’t this just another example of Republicans pandering to their Christian base? During a recent banquet in Shreveport, LA, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia praised fundamentalist Christians and urged his colleagues in the legal profession not to dismiss “traditional Christians” as simple-minded. He quoted passages from the Christian bible and encouraged the audience to accept “the possibility of miracles.” This is a U.S. Supreme Court Justice advocating Christianity in public. Yeah, I think we better take this seriously.