Impeach Judge Wright, help fix ‘perverted’ judiciary
Allen PalmeriStaff Writer
July 20, 2004
Efforts to impeach U.S. District Judge Scott O. Wright of Kansas City gained momentum July 9 when the controversial judge struck down Missouri’s law banning partial-birth abortion, saying it violates the U.S. Constitution because it lacks an exception to protect the health of the mother.
State Rep. Ed Emery, R-Lamar and a member of First Baptist Church, Lamar, is championing the impeachment movement based on Judge Wright’s lack of good behavior. The U.S. Constitution in Article III, Section 1, states that federal judges, “both of the Supreme and inferior courts, shall hold their offices during good behavior.” Since Article IV, Section 4 of the Constitution declares that states shall have a republican form of government, Judge Wright’s pattern of supporting abortion as defined by case law that is 31 years old, which is contrary to both the will of the people and the will of God, brings the legislative “check” of impeachment into play, Emery said.
In other words, Emery and dozens of other Missouri state legislators are fed up with one man ruining their work and thwarting the will of the people.
Emery has sent a letter calling for an investigation of Wright to U.S. Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. The letter is signed by 53 Missouri state representatives and senators. A state lawmaker cannot trigger impeachment proceedings, but a congressman can. Because Emery wants that to happen, he sent a copy of the letter he mailed to Sensenbrenner to the entire Missouri congressional delegation.
“Impeachment is just a recognition that one branch is out of balance with good government,” Emery said. “It’s the tool that’s available to the Legislature to try to restore that balance. I think that Judge Wright is kind of establishing once and for all that he does not see himself as accountable to anybody. He pretty much feels like he rules the roost and will continue to do that until the Legislature takes our responsibility seriously and says, ‘No, this is not the way government’s supposed to work, and we’re intent on restoring it.’ I think the whole system is perverted right now.”
Emery is right. The America of Justice Charles Evans Hughes, who said that “the Constitution is what the judges say it is,” must go.
Wright’s latest ruling in favor of Planned Parenthood, a leading provider of abortions, comes on the heels of his June 22 decision to suspend enforcement of a Missouri law requiring a 24-hour wait to have an abortion. It marked the second time Wright chose to suspend the law. The Eighth U.S. Circuit Court had dissolved a temporary restraining order issued by Wright in October of 2003, meaning the law was in effect from May 27 to June 22, but Wright imposed a preliminary injunction to trump the Eighth Circuit.
The partial-birth abortion law was passed in 1999, and the 24-hour wait law was passed in 2003. Both were vetoed by Democratic governors, and both were overridden by the General Assembly. Secretary of State Matt Blunt, the presumptive Republican candidate for governor, called this latest decision by Judge Wright “yet another example of a liberal, unelected, activist federal judge attempting to undermine the values of the people of Missouri.” Blunt said he was particularly offended because in 1999, as an elected representative, he voted for the law as well as for the successful override of then-Gov. Mel Carnahan’s veto.
Gov. Bob Holden and State Auditor Claire McCaskill, who are competing in the state Democratic primary for governor Aug. 3, both support current law that contradicts the idea that abortion is wrong. Their spokespersons were reluctant to comment on the record in phone interviews with The Pathway and did not respond July 16 to email requests for comment concerning Blunt’s statement on Judge Wright.
Emery is serious about impeachment. He learned that state lawmakers need to prepare a formal complaint to go before the U.S. House of Representatives, so he is in the process of doing that on behalf of his fellow legislators, he said. He also said that while none of the 53 is part of the legal system, many attorneys who are serving as lawmakers are supportive behind the scenes of the statewide effort to impeach Judge Wright, who was appointed to his position by President Carter.
“I have had help from attorneys in terms of drafting resolutions and other things, but they are reluctant to have their names published as promoting impeachment,” Emery said. “A lot of these judges are their good friends.”
The House Judiciary Committee has yet to signal that they will impeach Judge Wright, but they have sent a message that federal judges have stepped out of line. In a 21-13 vote July 14, the committee passed a measure to strip the jurisdiction of federal courts over federal legislation that gives states the right to decide whether to recognize same-sex “marriages.” That is encouraging. Lawmakers, both state and federal, must try to restore the checks and balances that the Founding Fathers so wondrously designed to keep all three branches of government in line. The branch that needs the most correction today is the judicial, which has adopted a dangerous doctrine of a living, evolving constitution.
“We’re going to have to work at it patiently and persistently until we see a change of direction away from this judicial activism,” Emery said.
The Executive Branch of the United States government can choose to defy the Judicial Branch. President Jefferson did it. So did President Jackson and President Lincoln. And the Legislative Branch can do the same thing. For example, the Congress joined Lincoln in defying the Dred Scott decision. Emery and his fellow Missouri legislators are simply following in their footsteps by heading down a path that could lead to an impeachment.
“The opinion which gives to the judges the right to decide what laws are constitutional and what not, not only for themselves in their own sphere of action, but for the Legislative and Executive also in their spheres, would make the Judiciary a despotic branch,” said America’s third President, Thomas Jefferson.
I wonder what Jefferson would think of Judge Wright’s rulings?