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Monday, November 3rd, 2003, 02:59 PM
U.S. Legal Decisions Should Rely on Foreign Law: O'Connor
6:46 am PST, 31 October 2003

Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor has said U.S. courts should pay more attention to international legal rulings, to put American in a more favorable light abroad.

Ms. O'Connor, 73, speaking at an awards dinner in Atlanta on Tuesday, said "impressions we create in this world are important, and they can leave their mark."

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported O'Connor and other members of the nation's highest court have made recent appeals to follow foreign law. The thinking has come across in speeches and in their legal decisions on the Supreme Court.

She recieved the World Justice Award from the Southern Center for International Studies.

Ms. O'Connor said the U.S. judicial system generally gives a favorable impression worldwide, "but when it comes to the impression created by the treatment of foreign and international law and the United States court, the jury is still out."

She said in 2002, the high court considered world opinion when it ruled executing mentally retarded convicts unconstitutional.

And this summer, the court relied on international decisions when it decided to overturn a Texas law banning sodomy.

"I suspect over time we will rely increasingly, or take notice at least increasingly, on international and foreign courts in examining domestic issues," she said, according to the paper.

Source: http://7am.com/cgi-bin/catwire.cgi?POLITICS_1000_2003103102.htm

Monday, November 3rd, 2003, 03:03 PM
Constitution Party Wants Supreme Court Justices Impeached

Jeff Johnson
Congressional Bureau Chief

Capitol Hill (CNSNews.com) - The nation's self-proclaimed third largest political party Thursday called for the impeachment of the six Supreme Court justices who voted to overturn a Texas law banning homosexual sodomy. One legal expert responded that the prospect of impeaching justices for political decisions was settled nearly 200 years ago.

James Clymer, chairman of the Constitution Party National Committee, called the court's decision "an affront to the very foundation" of the U.S. Constitution.

"It also shows blatant disregard for the people of various states and the laws their representatives have lawfully enacted," Clymer continued.

"Those members of the court who have so brazenly exercised illicit judicial authority should have to face the consequences of their actions which are violations of the Constitution, something they took an oath to uphold," he said.

Justices Anthony Kennedy, Sandra Day O'Connor, Stephen Breyer, David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and John Paul Stevens voted to strike down the Texas law and, Clymer said, should be removed from the court as a result.

The Constitution Party, which claims it is America's third largest political party in terms of actual voter registration, embraces the view that the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights mean precisely what they say and that only their application, not meaning, should be subject to interpretation by the courts.

The group believes the decision is an unconstitutional encroachment upon powers reserved to the states under the Tenth Amendment, which states that "powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution...are reserved to the States..."

"In other words," Clymer explained, "if a state is exercising a power reserved to it - like defining, establishing and applying its own laws pertaining to criminal justice - then the federal courts are supposed to maintain a hands-off attitude and uphold the state's right to do so."

He points to Article III Section 1 of the Constitution, which established the "supreme Court," as giving the grounds for impeachment.

"Contrary to popular belief, the justices of the Supreme Court do not have life tenure," Clymer argued. "Instead, the Constitution states that they are to serve 'during good behavior,' and this ruling is a prime example of what truly bad judicial behavior is."

He believes the intent of the "good behavior" clause was to ensure that judges would "maintain fidelity to the Constitution, the law and the highest of ethical standards during the conduct of their work.

"Their failure to do so is supposed to disqualify them from continued service on the bench, and Congress has the duty to see that this requirement is enforced, if those principles are seriously violated, through the mechanism of impeachment," Clymer concluded.

While Clymer's contentions may hold up in theory, Beau Baez, a professor of law with Concord School of Law in Los Angeles, told CNSNews.com that there is "practically zero chance" of a politically motivated impeachment succeeding.

"Thomas Jefferson tried it back in 1805 with another associate justice at the time - his name was Samuel Chase - primarily over a political squabble," Baez noted.

President George Washington appointed Chase, who was from Maryland, in 1796. At Jefferson's urging, the U.S. House of Representatives impeached Chase, but the Senate refused to convict him.

"Ever since," Baez explained, "impeaching justices for unpopular opinions has pretty much been dead."

For a Supreme Court justice to actually face removal by the Senate, Baez added, would take much more than even a universally unpopular decision.

"It would probably take being convicted of a criminal act - like murder, fraud, theft - and then the justice refusing to resign," he said. "But I think if it's [an action] within their 'jurisdiction,' writing a legal opinion, expounding on the Constitution, it really becomes a political question."

At that point, Baez said, the political party in power would have to decide whether or not it wanted to risk retaliation from the current minority party in the future.

"One party may be in power today and may be able to boot a justice from the other party," he said. "But then, of course, four years or eight years later, it may be reversed.

"It's a dangerous game," Baez concluded, "because what goes around comes around."

Source: http://www.crosswalk.com/news/1208058.html