Thursday, March 16, 2006

International Law a Threat to Freedom?

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg acknowledged recently that she has received death threats during her time on the court.

One threat in particular, posted online, railed Ginsburg and former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor for their use mention of international law in some of their opinions. The author of the threat says that their use of international law in their rulings is "a huge threat to our republic and constitutional freedom," the author then goes on to threaten their lives.

What this person does not realize is the bitter irony in his statements, even if the author does not follow through on his death threat the mere writing and publishing on the internet of such a statement is more damaging to our republic and our Constitution than all of Ginsburg's international law references combined, regardless of whether you agree with her judicial opinions or not.

Our founding fathers designed a Constitution that was nearly perfect, and from and within that Constitution sprung many important ideals which are necessary for our republic to function the way we expect it to. One of the most important of these ideals is the notion of judicial independence.

Our founding fathers recognized that this was important, which is why Judge is the only office in the federal government that is given an irrevocable life term. Short of breaking the law Justices and federal Judges cannot be removed from office by anyone. These life terms, in theory, give justices the necessary independence to make their decisions free of political constraints.

Whereas politicians are not apt to make unpopular decisions, no matter how right that decision may be, Judges have the freedom to make unpopular decisions in theory, because they do not have a constituency to please, as does a politician.

What the person who threatened Justice Ginsburg did was threaten judicial independence. No matter how unlikely it is that someone would actually assassinate a Supreme Court Justice, the threat and Justice Ginsburg's knowledge of it are enough to possibly affect her future decisions, and that is "a huge threat to our republic and constitutional freedom."

Posted by:
Frank Molfetta

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