Shredding the Constitution (cont’d)

Sen. Brownback comes out against life tenure for judges. That sort of radical rejection of the work of 1787 now passes for “conservatism.” Feh.

I guess the modern Republican Party has outgrown conservatism. At least that’s true if “conservatism” means, among other things, respect for the Framers of the Constitution and their work.

Not only has Attorney General Gonzales decided that the Framers’ decision to protect the traditional right of habeas corpus is as quaint as the Geneva Conventions, but Senator Brownback, launching his bid for the GOP Presidential nomination, has decided get beyond their fuddy-duddy insistence on life terms for Federal judges.

Update Of course Matt Yglesias is right: there’s no comparison in gravity between wanting to change the Constitution and proposing to violate it. My point was merely that neither idea can properly be called “conservative” as long as that word means “reluctant to change long-cherished custom.”

Matt also doubts that life tenure for judges is a good idea. But the alternative is to have every judge deciding every case asking himself, “What effect will this decision have on my post-judicial career prospects and earning power?” Increasing the rate of turnover would also increase the power of the current Presiden and Congressional majority, thus increasing the already-excessive stakes in the outcome of any given election.

Do we truly lneed a less independent judiciary than we have now?

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: