Michele Bachmann made waves earlier this year by announcing plans to hold a Constitutionalism class for Congressional staffers. Now the Republican representative has announced that course’s first teacher, conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. The conflict of interest could become a constitutional crisis.
“We’re going to do what the NFL does and what the baseball teams do: we’re going to practice every week, if you will, our craft, which is studying and learning the Declaration, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights,” said Bachmann of her forthcoming seminar.
Though she claims lawmakers from both parties are welcome, Bachmann’s mission skews toward the Hill’s Tea Party members, a population known for their strict constitutional constructionism. The sessions, Bachmann hopes, can help steer elected officials in a more “traditional,” read: conservative, direction.
And choosing Justice Scalia to lead the course will definitely help that right wing endeavor.
Often described as the Supreme Court’s most unabashedly conservative member, Scalia has previously said he believes Roe v. Wade should be overturned because the Founding Fathers wouldn’t approve of abortion, and ruled in 2003 to uphold anti-gay sodomy laws, calling the ultimate repeal a “disruption of the current social order.”
Clearly Scalia’s not the most impartial judge, and fits quite nicely into what conservatives derisively refer to as an “activist judge.” He’s a constructionist who happens to sit on the nation’s highest judicial body, and wants things to go his way.
According to a Court spokesperson, Scalia will discuss the “separation of powers,” an ironic twist considering his involvement with Bachmann looks less like an act of judicial kindness and more like a judge trying to shape our legislative body’s decision making.
Our Founding Fathers created the separation of powers for a reason: so that one individual or group can’t monopolize the legislative and judicial process. Scalia’s office exists specifically to avoid any ideological takeover of our government. His work with Bachmann totally sabotages that structure.
Bachmann also said she’s tapped two of the Supreme Court’s other conservative members, Samuel Alito and John Roberts, who will join fundamentalist Christian David Barton as the course’s future professors.
The fact that Justices are teaching alongside Barton, a right wing proselytizer, blasts a huge hole in the constitutional walls erected between judicial, legislative and religious institutions, eroding the ideals Bachmann, Scalia and their ideological peers hope to uphold.
In light of the the right wing’s twisted sense of justice, and Tea Party Rep. Allen West’s controversial comments on “censuring” the media, none of this should come as a surprise. It should, however, provide a warning to us all.
Put simply, this collaboration hinders our government’s ability to check itself before it wrecks itself.