12 March 2006

Doing the Job

There's an old saying that leaders aren't doing their jobs well if they're not pissing someone off. I guess that Sandra Day O'Connor has probably heard that same saying… although her language was a bit more polite when she spoke at Georgetown on Friday. NPR's Nina Totenberg described her as saying:

In an unusually forceful and forthright speech, O'Connor said that attacks on the judiciary by some Republican leaders pose a direct threat to our constitutional freedoms. O'Connor began by conceding that courts do have the power to make presidents[,] or the Congress or governors … "really, really angry." But, she continued, if we don't make them mad some of the time[,] we probably aren't doing our jobs as judges, and our effectiveness, she said, is premised on the notion that we won't be subject to retaliation for our judicial acts. The nation's founders wrote repeatedly, she said, that without an independent judiciary to protect individual rights from the other branches of government[,] those rights and privileges would amount to nothing. But, said O'Connor, as the founding fathers knew[,] statutes and constitutions don't protect judicial independence, people do.

"Retired Supreme Court Justice Hits Attacks on Courts and Warns of Dictatorship" (10 Mar 2006). Unfortunately, there does not appear to be a transcript of the entire speech available anywhere on the web. Later in the speech, Totenberg quotes her as saying

[W]e must be ever-vigilant against those who would strong[-]arm the judiciary into adopting their preferred policies. It takes a lot of degeneration before a country falls into dictatorship … but we should avoid these ends by avoiding these beginnings.


And so it goes.