What's really interesting to me is that this debate comes up, not in the context of civil rights or the integration of schools, or even of abortion. It comes in the wake of, and will certainly be understood in the context of, the protracted struggle to take one woman in a persistent vegetative state off of all life support mechanisms, because those mechanisms were perceived to be futile, or merely prolonging suffering, or the wish of the patient.
Which means that, while this struggle may have tremendous resonance for Mr. DeLay and others in Congress, it has no resonance for the American public, at all. Who, after all, are not affected by the courts' decisions in this matter, and feel rather directly threatened by Congress' willingness to improperly intervene.
Representative Tom DeLay, the House majority leader, escalated his talk of a battle between the legislative and judicial branches of government on Thursday, saying federal courts had "run amok," in large part because of the failure of Congress to confront them.And just when you're thinking: "It's still not weird enough for me."
"The failure is to a great degree Congress's," Mr. DeLay said. "The response of the legislative branch has mostly been to complain. There is another way, ladies and gentlemen, and that is to reassert our constitutional authority over the courts."
The organizers of the conference and Congressional staff members who spoke there called for several specific steps: impeaching judges deemed to have ignored the will of Congress or to have followed foreign laws; passing bills to remove court jurisdiction from certain social issues or the place of God in public life; changing Senate rules that allow the Democratic minority to filibuster Mr. Bush's appeals court nominees; and using Congress's authority over court budgets to punish judges whom it considers to have overstepped their authority.
In an interview, Jeff Lungren, a spokesman for Representative F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., Republican of Wisconsin and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said the panel was likely in some way to take up the issue of how the federal judges handled Ms. Schiavo's case.As someone has said of the Texas Legislature: if there weren't fools in it, it wouldn't be a representative government.
But Mr. Lungren said Mr. DeLay had not requested a hearing and the committee had not decided on a course of action. "There does seem to be this misunderstanding out there that our system was created with a completely independent judiciary," he said.
And thanks to lumpenproletariat at Eschaton for putting me onto this.