WASHINGTON — House Majority Leader Tom DeLay intensified his criticism of the federal courts Tuesday, singling out Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy's work from the bench as "incredibly outrageous" because he had relied on international law and done research on the Internet.
DeLay said he thought there were a "lot of Republican-appointed judges that are judicial activists."
The No. 2 Republican in the House has criticized the federal courts since they refused to order the reinsertion of Terri Schiavo's feeding tube. And he pointed to Kennedy as an example of Republican members of the Supreme Court who were activist and isolated.
"Absolutely," DeLay told Fox News Radio's "The Tony Snow Show." "We've got Justice Kennedy writing decisions based upon international law, not the Constitution of the United States? That's just outrageous. And not only that, but he said in session that he does his own research on the Internet? That is just incredibly outrageous."
Kennedy was appointed to the Supreme Court by President Reagan, a conservative icon, but angered conservatives by sometimes agreeing with the court's more liberal members. Still, it is unusual for a congressional leader to single out a Supreme Court justice for criticism.
A transcript of the interview released by Fox showed DeLay was asked how the recent scrutiny has affected him.
"Well, it certainly has gotten me closer to God," DeLay said. "You don't like seeing this and it hurts your family. It hurts your staff.... But, you know, we're not going to take it. We're fighting back."
DeLay has been criticized for his comments following Schiavo's death, which came despite Congress' passage of a law giving Schiavo's parents the right to file suit in in federal court for a review of her case. All the federal courts, from the trial judge in Florida to the Supreme Court, refused to review the case. "The time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior," DeLay said in a statement after Schiavo's death. He apologized last week, saying he had spoken in an "inartful" way.
Conservatives have been pushing to get the Senate to confirm President Bush's most conservative judicial nominees, which Senate Democrats are blocking. The House has no power over which judges are given lifetime appointments to the federal bench.
However, DeLay has called repeatedly for the House to find a way to hold the federal judiciary accountable for its decisions. "The judiciary has become so activist and so isolated from the American people that it's our job to do that," DeLay said.
One way would be for the House Judiciary Committee to investigate the clause in the Constitution that says "judges can serve as long as they serve with good behavior," he said. "We want to define what good behavior means. And that's where you have to start."