Pin It

A Simple Plan 

Impeaching judges and other modest proposals to shrink government

  • Caleb Walsh illustration

Despite bipartisan opposition, last week the Idaho House of Representatives passed a memorial to Congress calling for the impeachment of federal judges. North Idaho Representative Paul Shepherd, who said during the debate that he wished he could have impeached Chief Justice Earl Warren, sponsored the measure.

Besides chairing the Warren Commission, which investigated the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, and serving a decade as governor of California, Earl Warren is best known for a series of Supreme Court decisions. Under Warren, the court ended school segregation, strengthened the rights of the accused, ended public school-sponsored prayers, and instituted the "one man, one vote" rules for congressional apportionment.

The decisions of the Warren Court have become fundamental pillars in protecting the minority and the individual from the totalitarian rule of the majority.

click to enlarge reuter.jpg

It's exactly the idea of the rights of the individual, and the court's responsibility to protect those rights, that was under attack on the floor of the Idaho House last week. In particular, the stated target was recent rulings in favor of the freedom to marry, but the goal was actually much larger: to ensure that the judiciary was subservient to the legislature and the will of the majority.

Our rights are too important and simultaneously too fragile to be trusted to the whims of majority rule. It's for exactly this reason that we have the Bill of Rights, or a constitution at all for that matter. The entire concept of balance of powers is built on the notion that no one branch of government will be in complete control.

But the Idaho House declared last week that they didn't like that constitutional notion. They should have the power over everything and everyone, and no judge should be able to get in the way of how they choose to treat minorities or individual citizens.

Perhaps they've got a point. It would certainly be more efficient to toss out the Constitution — Bill of Rights and all — eliminate the judiciary and allow 50 percent plus one of the population to do anything they choose.

Of course, even then in most states, the governor still has the power to veto bills and interfere with the legislature's power. No worries. If we're already eliminating the judiciary's independence, why not eliminate the executive branch, too?

That would create a simple and effective government that would finally let the Idaho House have the power they deserve — except there's still this pesky body across the rotunda: the Idaho Senate. All too often the Idaho House's best ideas, like impeaching judges, are stopped in the Idaho Senate. Senators say the proposals are too extreme and not based on "facts."

Simple solution: eliminate the Idaho Senate, too. Then, finally, the Idaho House would have the power it deserves — except there's the matter of enforcement. Why give that power to the state police when we can simply give every House member a siren to throw on top of their car; they can pull people over whenever they see a violation. And since they're now acting as the judiciary, they can simply pull over the next 12 cars and conduct a jury trial right there on the side of the road.

Or we could keep the American constitutional system we've known and loved for more than 225 years. Tough call. Or at least it apparently is for a majority of the Idaho House. ♦

John T. Reuter, a former Sandpoint Councilman, has been active in protecting Idaho's environment, expanding LGBT rights and the Idaho GOP.


  • Pin It

Latest in Comment

  • The Landed and the White
  • The Landed and the White

    How Americans followed tradition when they voted for Trump
    • Jan 12, 2017
  • Do Something!
  • Do Something!

    Writers Resist, MLK Day activities and more ways to engage with your community
    • Jan 12, 2017
  • On the Street
  • On the Street

    Will you tip differently because of the minimum wage increase?
    • Jan 12, 2017
  • More »


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Thu | Fri | Sat | Sun | Mon | Tue
Lego Club

Lego Club @ Airway Heights Library

Wednesdays, 3-4 p.m. Continues through May 31

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by John T. Reuter

  • Common Ground
  • Common Ground

    Scotchman Peaks is an American treasure in our very own backyard
    • Dec 15, 2016
  • A Way Forward
  • A Way Forward

    Five things we can (and must) do without Washington, D.C.
    • Nov 17, 2016
  • Defending North Idaho
  • Defending North Idaho

    Why Heather Scott must go
    • Oct 20, 2016
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • Thanks, Obama

    The legacy of the 44th President goes far beyond the election of the 45th
    • Dec 29, 2016
  • One Free Shave

    Donald Trump might have merited a honeymoon with voters had he managed his transition better
    • Dec 29, 2016
  • More »

Top Tags in
News & Comment





green zone

Readers also liked…

© 2017 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation