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Catfish and Cod
Thursday, July 17, 2003
Outrage of the day: III.
(Link path: CNN)

No sooner do I deliver a Catfish & Cod Deep-Fried Fisking to Pat Robertson than I find that the man's handed me another pound to fry. Well, the griddle's still hot, let's go at it again.

ZAHN: First off, can you clarify for us or confirm who you were talking about? Were you talking about Justices John Paul Stephens, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sandra Day O'Connor?

ROBERTSON: That's correct.

Robertson, if you're going to lie to the press about your comments, can you please at least remember that you told the truth earlier in the day?

These are three people -- one's 83 years old, he's been there for an awful long time -- and I think our people are just so tired of this particular accord.

"Our people" being the Southern Baptists and those who agree with them, of course. No one else really counts.

I think they feel it's gotten out of control and we didn't know who else to appeal to, so we're appealing to the judge of all the Earth to see if there might not be some correction.

"Their memory is grevious unto us; the burden of them is intolerable. Have mercy upon us, Lord; have mercy on us, Most Merciful Father."

ZAHN: Are you asking your followers to pray for these justices to get sicker?

Well, why else would we start talking about their health problems?

ROBERTSON: Of course not.

Somewhere in his brain, even Robertson realizes that would be un-Christian.

When somebody's 83, it's time to retire and all we're asking is that they do.

I'll be sure to tell you in 2013 that's it's time to retire, Pat. I somehow doubt you will be ready to go then.

You know, the president, for example can only serve two terms. He serves eight years and he's out. The governor of Virginia serves four years and he's out. Our congressmen, many of them, have limited themselves to three terms. The Supreme Court, this particular court, has been in session together longer than any court since I think the 1820s. So it's time to see that changed.

Term limits for justices! Throw the bums out! After all, justices should care more for the whims of the people than the law, right? Right?


ZAHN: Rev. Robertson, you're a student of history and you have to concede here that the Constitution guarantees a lifetime term, does it not?

ROBERTSON: Well, it says they serve for good behavior and everybody has assumed that is for life. There's no question the Constitution gives it to them, but it doesn't mean they have to stay there. Lewis Powell, the distinguished justice from the state of Virginia, retired. Thurgood Marshall retired. Other justices have retired. And I don't see why some of these people can't retire. I'd like to see some fresh blood come in there and primarily conservative judges.

ZAHN: But historically hasn't it been true that when these justices retire it's usually because of ill health?

ROBERTSON: Not necessarily. I think Lewis Powell was in good health, he just decided it was time to get on with it. I believe that, you know, in corporations, many people have mandatory retirements at 65 or 70. I know we don't have that on the court, but nevertheless there comes a time.

Well, sure, people retire all the time. But they certaintly don't do it because tax-evading, biblethumping, money-grubbing hypocrites in backwoods Virginia tell them to.

But there's something more profound in this. This particular court, in my opinion, has turned the Constitution on its ear. It started way back in the '60's and we have had assault after assault after assault on religious values, on other things, and this recent decision, in my opinion, is shocking. It was so broad based. ... And just think, Paula, we've slaughtered something in the neighborhood of 43 million unborn babies because of Roe v. Wade.

Now we see true purpose, Pat. But, you know, you don't get to pick Supreme Court justices. The President does. And you don't get to pick when they retire. The justices themselves do. And you don't get to pick their votes on constitutional issues, either. But I'd bet you'd like to. Most theocrats do.

And I think the American people are tired of this. They want conservative judges.

Translation: I and my friends are tired of this. I want conservative judges. And I and my friends are the only members of the American people that count.

ZAHN: But Rev. Robertson, do you understand why some people are offended, even though you're saying you're not telling your followers to pray for ill health for these three justices, that they could actually interpret it that way.

ROBERTSON: Well they can interpret it any way they want to. I'm talking to God, and it's up to him to make a decision and if some of these folks don't like what I'm praying for and want to pray the other way, have at it? Let the Lord decide.

If Robertson were a man who accepted the Lord's judgement on these matters, we wouldn't be having this conversation. Robertson is such a divisive man precisely because he loudly and publicly keeps giving broad hints to God as to what He should do.

ZAHN: Would it be in your judgment and your definition of prayer, equally appropriate for you to pray for a change in the Constitution that wouldn't allow for a life term on the bench?

ROBERTSON: The possibility of getting a Constitutional amendment of that magnitude through both houses of Congress on a two-thirds vote and then through three quarters of the state legislatures is virtually impossible. I can't understand it.

I do. The Founding Fathers made it difficult to pass Constitutional amendments precisely so that troublemakers like you couldn't change the structure of our nation's government for narrow-minded, short-term poltical goals. I was watching "The Six Wives of Henry VIII" the other night. I never knew until now that it was Anne Boleyn's idea to establish the Church of England and deny papal authority. The Spanish seriously considered going to war over such an insult; dozens of monasteries were shut down; and the structure of England's government and culture was permanently changed. All so one woman could get into the King's bed.

This is the end result of having an easily fungible Constitution.

Paula, the problem is you have five unelected people who are determining what the Constitution is, how it affects all of us, and these people aren't elected. They're accountable to nobody and I'm just saying there needs to be some accountability, that's all.

That's right, Pat, they're unaccountable to anyone who might try to unduly influence their decisions. Like, oh, for example, you.

I've tried constitutional amendments, by the way. We pushed one, big time, back in about 1982. And I had Jim Wright on board and I had Bob Byrd on board and I had the Democrats on board, and there were six Republicans that axed it in the Senate. We had the House of Representatives going for the amendment. This had to do with prayer in the schools.

What does that have to do with term limits for Supreme Court justices?

ZAHN: Just a final question for you and I don't mean this in a rude way at all.


"After all, I am."

ZAHN: When you're talking about prayer, I mean, have you ever prayed for that Constitutional amendment? ... Have you ever prayed for that change?

ROBERTSON: Listen, we prayed, we worked, we lobbied, we did everything we could possibly do and six Republicans blocked it because they said, if these religious people get their way on this one, they'll keep coming back for more.

Wise men. I'll have to look them up one day and send them thank-you cards.

And it was a heartbreaking thing that took place, and as I say, 1982, so I'm at this a long time.

But Paula, I prayed for the downfall of the Soviet Union. I thought that communism, the tyranny of communism, was an abomination and I beseeched God to bring that terrible evil down and he did. It was a great triumph, it took awhile, but it happened.

You know, Pat, so did the Pope and Osama bin Laden. Somehow I think God is going to do what He thinks is best regardless of what you think. This may come as a surprise to you, but He knows what needs to be done a lot better than you do.