You cannot criticize me ever, but I can criticize you. Even though you’re up for reelection, you have no power, but I am the final say on all matters, even though I am unelected. I can disobey higher courts but you can’t push back even against a lower court. If you don’t like it, then you are a member of the KKK.
Who am I?
Well, a federal judge, of course.
Last week, a radical federal judge went on a tirade against President Trump, ironically, criticizing him for criticizing outlandish rulings by federal judges. Carlton Reeves, an Obama-appointed judge in Mississippi, delivered an unprecedented personal attack on the president. Typically they wait until retirement for such tirades, but Reeves, who has been prone to such tirades in his written opinions, let loose on what he called “the great assault on our judiciary.”
His speech delivered last Thursday night at the University of Virginia School of Law, upon receipt of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Law, was titled “Defending the Judiciary: A Call for Justice, Truth, and Diversity on the Bench,” according to a copy obtained by Buzzfeed.
“When politicians attack courts as ‘dangerous,’ ‘political,’ and guilty of ‘egregious overreach,’ you can hear the Klan’s lawyers, assailing officers of the court across the South. When leaders chastise people for merely ‘us[ing] the courts,’ you can hear the Citizens Council, hammering up the names of black petitioners in Yazoo City, [Mississippi],” thundered Reeves.
Evidently, he believes that a president who will stand for reelection cannot criticize the decisions of the unelected branch, but he, who will never face voters, can say what he wants. In a further twisted stroke of irony about not criticizing judges, Reeves blasted Trump’s judicial picks for being white and not sufficiently and emphatically declaring their support for judicial precedents he agrees with.
The irony would be laughable if not for the fact that this dangerous individual still sits on a federal court. This is a man who is regularly reversed by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals for violating Supreme Court precedent, yet somehow, he is concerned about precedent. Reeves was recently overturned by the Fifth Circuit after he said that Mississippi could not protect business owners from being forced to violate their conscience in serving gay weddings or transgender events. The Supreme Court sided with the Fifth Circuit.
“When the powerful accuse courts of ‘open[ing] up our country to potential terrorists,’ you can hear the Southern Manifesto’s authors, smearing the judiciary for simply upholding the rights of black folk,” accused Reeves. Presumably, he is referring to Trump and the travel ban. But once again, the Supreme Court actually upheld that move categorically and said the president had complete power to do so. Clearly, Reeves doesn’t believe in Supreme Court opinions he disagrees with and will continue to disobey them. Yet, he has the nerve to criticize the leader of a separate branch of government who is not bound by those rulings as a political rule the same way that he is?
Then again, he clearly has no respect for the Supreme Court either. In a veiled shot at Supreme Court Justice John Roberts, he said, “It is not enough for judges, seeing race-based attacks on their brethren, to say they are merely ‘disheartened,’ or to simply affirm their nonpartisan status.”
For those who are unaware of how radical so many of these lower court judges have become, the comments of Reeves should offer a glimpse into their worldview. They believe that we have one branch of government that controls everything, and you are not even allowed to criticize them as a separate branch of government, much less push back against their rulings. Yet, in the ultimate display of intellectual gymnastics, they believe the Supreme Court is only binding when they agree with its decisions. And even though, in their warped view, other branches can’t push back, liberal lower court justices can push back when they disagree. This is their one-directional ratchet whereby lower courts can always be ‘more progressive’ than the Supreme Court but not less so.
If you think that lower courts will accept Supreme Court rulings they disagree with, let this speech from Reeves be a warning.
Reeves also said, “When lawmakers say ‘we should get rid of judges,’ you can hear segregationist senators, writing bills to strip courts of their power.”
Thus, he is comparing a power vested in Congress in Article III Section 2 to make regulations and exceptions to the jurisdiction of the courts to the KKK.
Reeves believes that anyone who disagrees with him is assaulting the Constitution, but he doesn’t believe in the constitutional constraints and checks on his ability to implement his world view unilaterally.
Read the entire speech for yourself and ask yourself the following question: Are you prepared to submit yourself to hundreds of these radical judges having the sole and final say over every aspect of our society? Remember that Bernie Sanders, Ilhan Omar, and Alexandria Ocasio Cortez have almost no power to implement their ideas. But under this unconstitutional practice of judicial supremacy — especially lower court, one-directional ratchet supremacy — a number of people who quite openly share their views now have enough power to single-handedly create open borders for our entire nation.
The tragic irony of this entire speech is that Reeves was receiving a Thomas Jefferson reward. Perhaps Reeves should educate himself on Jefferson. The great founder once said, “[e]ach of the three departments has equally the right to decide for itself what is its duty under the constitution, without regard to what the others may have decided for themselves under a similar question.”
Thomas Jefferson, as president, refused to enforce the Sedition Act of 1798, which made it a felony to “print, utter, or publish … any false, scandalous, and malicious writing” about the government. Writing in an 1804 letter to Abigail Adams, Jefferson explained his constitutional role as follows:
The judges, believing the law constitutional, had a right to pass a sentence of fine and imprisonment; because that power was placed in their hands by the constitution. but the Executive, believing the law to be unconstitutional, was bound to remit the execution of it; because that power has been confided to him by the constitution.
This is what Jefferson thought of judges enforcing laws duly passed by Congress he deemed unconstitutional. One can imagine what he would have thought of edicts “passed” by judges to nullify the immigration, marriage, and life protection laws duly passed by Congress or a legislature, and the inherent obligation of the executive to defend the constitutional law from the unconstitutional judicial edict.
Reeves seems to invoke “equality” in every other sentence to justify his racial litmus test for appointing judges. He should therefore be well acquainted with the speeches of the great fighter for making the Declaration of Independence’s ideal of equality a reality during the Civil War. As Abraham Lincoln said of the false notion of judicial supremacy during his debate with Stephen Douglas when Douglass was suggesting the Dred Scott decision locked up freedom in the territories, it’s a case of “thus saith the Lord:”
This man sticks to a decision which forbids the people of a Territory from excluding slavery, and he does so not because he says it is right in itself-he does not give any opinion on that-but because it has been decided by the court, and being decided by court, he is, and you are bound to take it in your political action as law-not that he judges at all of its merits, but because a decision of the court is to him a “Thus saith the Lord.” [Applause.] He places it on that ground alone, and you will bear in mind that, thus committing himself unreservedly to this decision, commits him to the next one just as firmly as to this. He did not commit himself on account of the merit or demerit of the decision, but it is a Thus saith the Lord. The next decision, as much as this, will be a Thus saith the Lord. There is nothing that can divert or turn him away from this decision. [First Debate Ottwa Illinois, August 21, 1858]
Mind you, he was referring to the Supreme Court. Nobody until this generation could have imagined we would lock up our border control, election law, life, marriage, and oil because of an insidiously forum-shopped district judge.
Reeves closed his screed by noting that “We do Jefferson justice –we do the martyrs of Mississippi justice –we do our country justice–by defending our judiciary. Now, more than ever.” One could not possibly be more historically or constitutionally illiterate than Reeves by making this remark. Jefferson lamented in 1823 that “there is no danger I apprehend so much as the consolidation of our government by the noiseless, and therefore unalarming, instrumentality of the Supreme Court.”
Even Jefferson could never have imagined several hundred lower court judges like Reeves who would wield such power to “twist and shape” the Constitution “into any form they may please” like he feared with the Supreme Court. Are we really prepared to surrender our Constitution to men like this, thereby making our republic a government of [unelected] men rather than one of laws?
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.