title

Contempt:
How the Right is Wronging American Justice

Author: Catherine Crier

Catherine Crier

Catherine Crier

This is presented in conjunction with a book by Supreme Court Justice Anthony Scalia.

Catherine Crier is the youngest judge to have been elected in Texas. She is a television host and a former journalist for ABC, CNN and Fox News. She has written two other books, New York Times  best sellers: The Case against Lawyers, (2002) and A Deadly Game (2005).

Crier's subtitle for this book: How the Right Is Wronging American Justice. She describes a few on the Right as distorting history and undermining the rule of law in pushing their agendas. And she criticizes the textualism of Anthony Scalia and the "strict constructionism" of Robert Bork.

The Founding Fathers, she claims, were unspecific enough in writing the Constitution to give thinking room for the future. When they wanted to be specific, she writes, they were. For example: declaring the minimum age for the president at thirty-five. The founders, she adds, "did not shackle the Constitution with an overkill of specifics." They knew, she writes, that "they could not anticipate every conceivable issue that might brush up against the Constitution."

Crier is for a strict interpretation of the Constitution where the Constitution is specific: as in its statement that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

She points out that flogging was legal at the time of the founding of the Constitution, and that abortion was too. The question, according to Crier, is how to apply reasoning to judgments about the ultimate law of the land, the Constitution, with reason in accord with contemporary values and society. She quotes James Madison – traditionally regarded as the Father of the United States Constitution. 

Is it not the glory of the people of America, that, whilst they have paid a decent regard to the opinions of former times and other nations, they have not suffered a blind veneration for antiquity, for custom, or for names, to overrule the suggestions of their own good sense, the knowledge of their own situation, and the lessons of their own experience?  [The Federalist Papers, essay 14.]

She criticizes justices Scalia and Thomas for their adherence to a theory of Original Intent, complaining that it is a theory that assumes that the Constitution has been frozen since its adoption in 1788. "Originalist" judges, she writes, "supposedly read the Constitution through the eyes of the framers." According to Original Intent, she complains, if an activity was permitted during the time of the framers it is constitutionally protected and any attempt to restrict it is unconstitutional. She accuses Scalia of attempting to fathom original intent beyond his ability as an historian. She asks, "if professional historians often cannot reach a consensus about what the framers thought about a particular issue, why does Justice Scalia think he can do better?"

She criticizes Robert Bork, whose nomination to the Supreme Court in 1987 the Senate rejected. She writes that Bork "has been engaged in an all-out war with the judiciary." She quotes Bork complaining of the courts "applying no will but their own," and she writes that "Bork is mad that he can't impose his will on America." 

Catherine Crier describes a host of people she believes are on the side of distorting what judging should be about, among them, Pat Robertson, Jay Sekulow, Tom Delay, James Dobson.