WASHINGTON — House Majority Leader Tom DeLay intensified his criticism of the federal courts on Tuesday, singling out Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy’s work from the bench as “incredibly outrageous” because he has relied on international law and done research on the Internet.
DeLay also said he thought there were a “lot of Republican-appointed judges that are judicial activists.”
The No. 2 Republican in the House has openly criticized the federal courts since they refused to order the reinsertion of Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube. And he pointed to Kennedy as an example of Republican members of the Supreme Court who were activist and isolated.
“Absolutely. We’ve got Justice Kennedy writing decisions based upon international law, not the Constitution of the United States? That’s just outrageous,” DeLay told Fox News Radio. “And not only that, but he said in session that he does his own research on the Internet? That is just incredibly outrageous.”
A spokeswoman for the court, Kathy Arberg, said Kennedy could not be reached for comment.
Although Kennedy was appointed to the Supreme Court by President Reagan, a conservative icon, he has aroused conservatives’ ire by sometimes agreeing with the court’s more liberal members. Nevertheless, it is unusual for a congressional leader to single out a Supreme Court justice for criticism.
Dan Allen, a DeLay spokesman, declined to comment on the interview.
Comments under scrutiny
DeLay himself has been criticized for his comments following Schiavo’s death, which came despite Congress’ passage of a law ordering the courts to review her case. All of the federal courts, from the trial judge in Florida to the Supreme Court, refused to do so.
“The time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior,” DeLay said in a statement. He apologized last week, saying he had spoken in an “inartful” way.
Conservatives have been pushing to get the Senate to confirm President Bush’s most conservative judicial nominees, which Senate Democrats are blocking. The House has no power over which judges are given lifetime appointments to the federal bench.
However, DeLay has called repeatedly for the House to find a way to hold the federal judiciary accountable for its decisions. “The judiciary has become so activist and so isolated from the American people that it’s our job to do that,” DeLay said.
One way would be for the House Judiciary Committee to investigate the clause in the Constitution that says “judges can serve as long as they serve with good behavior,” he said. “We want to define what good behavior means, and that’s where you have to start.”
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