by Steven Ertelt
March 13, 2006
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor used a speech at Georgetown University to attack pro-life lawmakers who sided with Terri Schiavo’s parents in their efforts to prevent their daughter’s euthanasia death. She claimed a Congressional effort to have federal courts review the case was a first step towards a dictatorship.
O’Connor, who backs abortion, announced her retirement last year and was recently replaced by federal appeals court judge Samuel Alito, who pro-life advocates hope will be more open to upholding laws that protect the right to life.
"We must be ever-vigilant against those who would strong-arm the judiciary," she said of the pro-Terri Schiavo lawmakers.
"It takes a lot of degeneration before a country falls into dictatorship, but we should avoid these ends by avoiding these beginnings," O’Connor said, pointing to Communist countries and autocracies around the world.
After a local Florida judge reaffirmed his decision to allow Terri’s former husband to take her life, some pro-life lawmakers said it may be appropriate to impeach such judges.
According to a London Guardian news report, O’Connor responded and said that such comments "pose a direct threat to our constitutional freedom."
"I want you to tune your ears to these attacks," she told the law students in attendance. "You have an obligation to speak up."
"Statutes and constitutions do not protect judicial independence — people do," she added.
O’Connor also said that some Republican lawmakers are contributing to a climate of violence against judges by using harsh language to denounce certain decisions.
She was specifically referring to pro-life Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, who, after a judge was shot and killed in an Atlanta courtroom, said some judicial decisions may be prompting violent reactions.