Copyright © 2005 by John T. Plecnik
For too long, congress has allowed federal judges, appointed pursuant to Article III of the U.S. Constitution, to flaunt the law. Appointed for life during good behavior, these judges, including members of the Supreme Court and "9th U.S. Circus Court of Appeals," are vulnerable to "impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors." Just like the president, they can be impeached by a majority vote of the House of Representatives and convicted by a two thirds vote in the Senate. The time has come for good conservatives and true patriots to demand that congress impeach the activist, rock star judges.
Last Thursday, Rush Limbaugh gave a nod to "this 21-year-old student from Duke." The king of conservative radio read my column, "Rock Star Judges Usurp Power for Fame," over the air on his nationally syndicated program. Millions listened. Many replied. And I am left with a sense of hope that we can make a difference. We can force congress to perform its duty and protect the Constitution from a judiciary run amuck.
Last Thursday was a solemn day. Terri Schiavo had just passed away, leaving America uniquely aware of the awesome, life-and-death power that judges have come to claim in our society. In the wake of several cases challenging the constitutionality of the phrase, "under God," in our Pledge of Allegiance and the public display of the Ten Commandments, conservative jurists are left flabbergasted by the absurd arguments of liberal lawyers, including those of Duke Law Professor Erwin Chemerinsky, who advised and represented the litigants in a number of these infamous cases.
As conservatives and strict constructionists, what can we do? To quote Rush Limbaugh, reacting to my prior column, "[Congress] can do it, [congress] can impeach judges. The Constitution provides for it." Indeed it does. But, if such action lacks the popular support of the people, congress won't have the stomach to overthrow an activist judiciary. Congress needs pressure to risk reform. Congress needs our support and insistence to impeach the activist, rock star judges.
How then, can we show our support? How can we demand that congress take action and preserve the integrity of our Constitution? Simple though it may sound a letter to your congressman-a letter to your senators-can make all the difference. Having interned on Capitol Hill with a congressional office, I can vouch that most letters from constituents are duly noted. When a big mailing hits the office, i.e., hundreds or thousands of letters on the same topic are received, the congressman will definitely hear about it. If enough Americans-if enough fans of Rush Limbaugh-can spare a moment to write their representatives, we can start the process of reining in our most blatant offenders.
With Republicans enjoying a commanding 232 to 202 lead over the Democrats in the House of Representatives, the formal accusation and public humiliation of impeachment could be leveled at any time. We easily have a majority. The only question is, as Rush Limbaugh put it, "whether we've got the guts and the will" to impeach the activist, rock star judges. We conservative, grassroots campaigners are the guts and the will of the Republican Party. In that sense, the real question is, do we have the will to lobby congress? Do we have the will to demand that they do their job? Do we have the will to stand up and be counted?
Five minutes of your time and a postage stamp are a small price to pay for freedom and the protections of our Constitution. Remind your representatives to represent you and stop the activist, rock star judges. Oh, and tell them a Dukie sent you.
Well Mr. Speaker of the House, distinguished gentlemen and gentlewomen, if any of you have the moral courage to read this piece and take it to heart, let us know that you stand by the Founding Fathers and the honest, plain meaning of their Constitution. The time for silence has long passed.
John T. Plecnik (JTP) is a 21-year-old law student at Duke University and a Featured Columnist at The Conservative Voice, Lincoln Tribune, a weekly newspaper in Lincolnton, N.C., and various other online and print publications. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Accounting with a Minor in Mythology and graduated summa cum laude, sharing the title of Valedictorian, from Belmont Abbey College. Email your comments to John at John.Plecnik@law.duke.edu.