Rick Perry once again put his ignorance on display during an interview with the editors of the Des Moines Register, brain farting on Justice Sotomayor’s name and even on the number of justices on the Supreme Court.
As he railed against “activist” judges, Texas Gov. Rick Perry slipped up on not only the name of one of the Supreme Court justices but also on how many sit on the bench.
“When you see his appointment of two, from my perspective, inarguably activist judges whether it was …” Perry said in the Des Moines Register editorial board meeting, pausing for six seconds. “Not Montemayor …”
“Sotomayor,” a member of the editorial board interrupted.
“Sotomayor, Sotomayor,” Perry said. “And Kagan are both activist judges.”
Shortly after this flub, Perry referred to ”eight unelected” judges when discussing who should decide whether prayer is allowed in schools.
After several major gaffes during debates, he once suggested that perhaps he just shouldn’t have participated in them (and that was before the infamous “oops” moment). Maybe his problem is that he just shouldn’t participate in any public events where he has to speak. Maybe he should run the first private presidential campaign.
“For Washington to tell a local school district that you cannot have a prayer and a time of prayer in that school is, I think, offensive to most Americans. I trust the people of the states to make those decisions. I trust those independent school districts to make those decisions better than eight unelected, and frankly, unaccountable judges,” Perry said.
But the real problem here is not that he can’t remember Justice Sotomayor’s name, or even that he doesn’t know there are nine justices on the court. The real problem is that he is abysmally ignorant of the subject as a whole, clearly not understanding the concept of judicial independence. Based on that ignorance, he engages in pseudo-populist blather about “unelected judges” and their “judicial activism,” a meaningless phrase (which, unfortunately, many Democrats including President Obama have begun to use as well).
You know why those judges are unelected? Because that’s what the constitution requires — the document that conservatives are forever praising and declaring fealty to after it was given to the Founding Fathers by Jesus himself at Mt. Sinai. It was set up that way quite intentionally and with a great deal of forethought, and they explained why they did it with much detail in Federalist 78 and other places.
The point of having an independent, unelected judiciary is the same as the reason we have a Bill of Rights — to prevent the voters and their representatives from violating the rights of others. Alexander Hamilton explained this:
The complete independence of the courts of justice is peculiarly essential in a limited Constitution. By a limited Constitution, I understand one which contains certain specified exceptions to the legislative authority; such, for instance, as that it shall pass no bills of attainder, no ex-post-facto laws, and the like. Limitations of this kind can be preserved in practice no other way than through the medium of courts of justice, whose duty it must be to declare all acts contrary to the manifest tenor of the Constitution void. Without this, all the reservations of particular rights or privileges would amount to nothing.
And of course, Perry’s objections to those “unelected judges” telling a local school district that they can’t hold a government-mandated prayer would disappear the moment a mostly Muslim school began having all students, including Christians, pray toward Mecca five times a day. Because this isn’t about freedom, it’s about maintaining Christian hegemony.
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