Reading from a prepared address about judges that he touted as "prophetic", Focus on the Family founder James C. Dobson conflated state circuit judges whose decisions he opposed with federal judges in order to rally support for President Bush's federal bench nominations; misstated the political leanings of several judges in order to support his flawed contention that the judiciary is out of step with "American opinion"; and called for the impeachment of six U.S. Supreme Court justices, including four Republican political appointees, as well as the abolition of a federal appeals court in San Francisco.
On his April 4 radio show, Dobson singled out San Francisco Superior Court Judge Richard Kramer, attacking his March 11 ruling that struck down California's ban on same-sex marriage. Dobson cast Kramer as part of a cadre of "often godless" and "liberal judges ... itching to sanction same-sex marriage."
Yet contrary to Dobson's suggestion that Kramer is a liberal atheist, Kramer is a registered Republican and devout Catholic appointed by Republican former Gov. Pete Wilson. On January 3, during deliberations on the challenge to California's same-sex marriage ban, Kramer refused to allow the city of San Francisco to refute controversial statements by the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), a group that asserted that homosexuality is a mental disorder.
Dobson went on to invoke Kramer and Florida state circuit court judge George W. Greer, who ordered Terri Schiavo's feeding tube removed, as support for his argument that the Senate should confirm Bush's picks for the federal bench:
"The courts are killing us. Not only with regard to Terri Schiavo, where they literally did kill a person, but what they're doing to democracy. ... And unless the Congress steps up with the nominations by the president and puts people on the court who have respect for the Constitution as it was written, we will no longer be a free people."
But Dobson's use of Kramer and Greer as examples of the need to confirm Bush's judicial nominees is misleading, since both serve on state courts, over which Bush has no control. Thus, the confirmation of his nominees would have no impact on the makeup of state courts.
Dobson also denounced "a judicial oligarchy," which he claimed issues rulings that are out of step with public opinion. As an example, Dobson cited the March 1 Supreme Court decision in Roper v. Simmons, which abolished juvenile executions. To make his case for executing juveniles, Dobson described the crimes of Lee Boyd Malvo, who at age 17 participated in a series of murders with Army veteran John Allen Muhammad. Dobson heaped scorn on Justice Anthony Kennedy, who wrote the majority opinion in the Roper case. Calling Kennedy "the most dangerous man in America," he claimed Kennedy's opinion reflects how he "ignores the weight of American opinion to enforce his post-modern nonsense."
But a December 14, 2003, ABC News poll found that 52 percent of respondents preferred a life sentence for Malvo, compared to 37 percent who favored the death penalty. And only 21 percent of those polled generally preferred the death penalty for juvenile killers. Similarly, a May 2002 Gallup poll found that only 26 percent of respondents favored the death penalty for juvenile offenders, while 69 percent were opposed.
Dobson concluded by calling for the impeachment of Kennedy, along with Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, David H. Souter, Stephen Breyer, and John Paul Stevens. He even called for the impeachment of Sandra Day O'Connor, who dissented from the court's majority in the Roper case. Dobson also demanded the abolition of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals:
The troublesome 9th Circuit of Appeals in San Francisco could be abolished and then staffed by different judges immediately. But the Congress has not had the political gumption to take any such action. Consequently, the courts arrogantly thumb their noses at other co-equal authorities.