Note: This piece was a joint effort by Shelli and Linda. Since joint work is happening with some frequency, we have created a “new author” on the GiN site. When you see work from “Shellinda”, that is a joint post.
We propose a toast to Federal Judge Royce C. Lamberth for carrying out his duties as a judge precisely as he should. We find it very unfortunate that too many judges take the opportunity of a case to legislate from the bench. It may be a little known fact that judges are not only not to engage in “making law”, when the intent of the law is very clear they are not even supposed to interpret it. In these instances, the action required is quite clear.
In the present case, as a story in Tuesday’s Washington Post reports, Judge Lamberth issued an injunction that blocks the National Institutes of Health from further funding of research on embryonic stem cells while a lawsuit brought by two researchers works through the litigation process. The plaintiffs in the case contend that the policy of the Obama Administration violates the 1996 law that prohibits federal funding of this research.
President Obama’s position on life, particularly as pertains to embryonic stem cell research, meant that the 1999 contrivance of Department of Health and Human Services attorney Harriet S. Rabb could be implemented. Rabb contended that the NIH could legally fund research on embryonic stem cells as long as the NIH did not provide funds for the creation or procurement of the cells themselves.
Attorney Rabb’s torturing of the English language to arrive at this conclusion not only clearly violates the intent of the ’96 law, it exemplifies one clear reason why we see so many lengthy pieces of legislation coming from Congress and even state legislatures, why bureaucrats issue reams of paper when producing regulations, policies, and guidelines. Because lawyers like Rabb are more like W.C. Fields (confused? see below) than sober guardians of the law, every possible alternative interpretation has to be anticipated, every loophole plugged.
No words are sufficiently clear to convey meaning anymore, especially when there are ceaseless efforts to contort the language in order to devise purposeful misinterpretations of statutory language. It is one reason why bills are in excess of 2000 pages in length that practically no one reads and few who do read them are able to fully comprehend. While loopholes are being plugged by the squadron of attorneys, pet projects and entirely unrelated measures are slipped in and we literally must pass the bills so we can find out what is in them.
By simply reading the law in question, recognizing its clarity, and taking the only proper course of action, Judge Lamberth not only put a stop to further purposeful creation of life so it may be destroyed, he also put a stop to the too-oft used tactics that result in maneuvering around the law.
Here’s to Judge Lamberth!
Note: W.C Fields reference: At one time, as part of the “popular culture lexicon” such a reference in context of a person looking to maneuver around the rules, etc. is evoked the image of the comedian W.C. Fields whose voice and mannerism were very distinct. In imitation of Fields’ signature style, the person making the reference would say, “I’m (he’s, she’s) lookin’ for a loophole”. It appears the expression became popular only after Fields’ death, since it was reported by a visitor to his sick bed. When the visitor arrived, he found Fields, known for being less than enthusiastic about religion, reading the Bible. The visitor asked Fields why he was reading the Bible, and Fields replied, “I’m checking for loopholes.” (see link to Field’s Wikipedia page)