We think Jim was out of line and completely wrong to do what he did. Well, guess what? He agrees with us on this one!
In a speech delivered at Stanford University on May 9, 2005, Rep. Sensenbrenner spoke about his committee's investigation into whether the federal judiciary should have an inspector general to ferret out “waste, fraud, and abuse.” This is worrisome because of separation of powers issues, although Sensenbrenner doesn't see it that way. But note the passages I've highlighted:
I do not believe that creating an IG for the Judiciary will violate the separation-of-powers doctrine that promotes the independence of the three branches of government. Each of the branches are independent and have a job to do. The Judiciary isn’t supposed to write law and the Congress cannot determine how a court will rule. But the branches are interdependent entities as well. As such, congressional fulfillment of its constitutional oversight responsibility of the Judiciary does not threaten judicial independence....So why did Jim write that letter if he believes Congress shouldn't interfere with judicial decisions? Did he change his mind between May and June? Did he forget what he said then? Does he just not know what he's doing these days? You be the judge.
Now, it is one thing for Congress to monitor how the courts are set up; it is quite another thing to tell them how they must author opinions. Which brings us to the issue de jour of congressional-judicial relations....
Like other Members of Congress, I was not enthralled with the outcome of the Schiavo case in Florida. I was closely involved in the Schiavo case where Congress and the President went to extraordinary effort to ensure Terri Schiavo’s civil rights were protected. My biggest beef with the Federal Judiciary’s handling of the case involves the Federal Judiciary not accepting jurisdiction when Congress and the President enacted a law giving it to them. The new, full, and fresh review of the case’s merits did not occur as required by the law.
While I vociferously disagree with the Federal Judiciary’s handling of this case, that does not mean that Congress should respond by attempting to neuter the courts, that is, by preventing them from doing what they have done for 200 years: interpret the law.