Not enough attention has been paid to Rep. Steve King’s (R-IA) comments on NPR this past weekend. In very plain language, Rep. King threatened to abolish the federal courts or prohibit the Justice Department from enforcing their orders. It’s simply astonishing:
Rep. KING: Congress created all of the courts; all the federal courts, Congress grants them jurisdiction. So whatever Congress gives, they can take away. If we wanted to abolish the 9th Circuit, for example, we could do that. Now I’m not going to say I think that’s the prudent thing to do. We could also cut the budget. We could prohibit the Justice Department from enforcing the orders of the court. …
ELLIOTT: Cut the budgets for the court?
Rep. KING: We can do that. If they’re not going to listen to us any other way — if we pass a law, a specific law, and they reject that law, then the authority that they will begin to understand is when their budget starts to dry up, we’ll get their attention. That’s not my preferred method. My preferred method is to have them respect the Constitution and the law. But they are counterproductive to this country and if we’re going to preserve our Constitution, we must get them in line.
Note that the basis for King’s comments — his claim that the federal courts ignored the section of the Schiavo bill forcing a brand new trial — are contradicted by no less than Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. During discussion of the bill on the floor of the House, Frist said, “Nothing in the current bill or its legislative history mandates a stay… This bill does not change current law under which a stay is discretionary.”