United States Congressman, Jeff MillerUnited States Congressman, Jeff MillerUnited States Congressman, Jeff Miller
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Judiciary

TEN COMMANDMENTS: I oppose the Ten Commandments being carted out of the Alabama State Judicial Complex. It is a scene I would expect to see in North Korea, not the United States. The federal courts should not be telling a state that there is no room for the public display of the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments Defense Act simply returns to the individual states the power to make the decision of whether the Ten Commandments may be displayed on or within publicly owned buildings. This legislation in no way instructs states to display the Ten Commandments, nor does it force the states must consider this issue. It simply provides states the option of allowing the important decisions in this matter to be made by those closest to the people and the communities -- not by Washington and those within the federal government.

Court cases show that for 160 years, Christian principles were legally inseparable from American public life. John Jay, the original Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court—and one of the three men most responsible for the Constitution—declared in 1816, "Providence has given to our people the choice of their rules, and it is the duty—as well as the privilege and interest—of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.”

But that is changing. How long has it been since we have heard that kind of statement from the Supreme Court? We as Americans must be concerned by what has happened to America since the courts have begun rejecting the Founders’ beliefs.

The intent of the Founders in drafting the First Amendment was abundantly clear; before they approved the final wording, it went through extensive discussions and nearly a dozen drafts. Those discussions are recorded in the Congressional Record from June 7 through September 25, 1789, and they make clear that they did not want in America what they had in England. We are not all Catholics, or Anglicans, and they didn’t want one denomination running the nation. They wanted God’s principles running the country.

The Ten Commandments form the very basis of God’s principles. But no matter what one believes—or doesn’t—they are the indisputable basis of our Judeo-Christian ethic, and they form the framework of our body of law. I believe that contemporary leaders must return America to its original guiding philosophy. HR 2045, the Ten Commandments Defense Act, will do just that. It will return our government to its Founders’ intent; that we lead, and live, in the recognition that God is the source of the blessings of liberty. I commend Rep. Aderholt for introducing the bill, and I stand ready to work with him to move this legislation forward to passage.

ASBESTOS LITIGATION REFORM: For much of the last century, asbsetos was a favorite componenet of American manufacturing because it was cheap and remarkably impervious to heat, fire, and corrosion. It was used to insulate and fireproof everything from steam engines and military gear, to buildings and theater curtains. Yet since the 60's, when asbestos was found to cause cancer, it has been a source of costly litigation.

It is time to end this crisis. Companies with even peripheral ties to the materila have made big payouts in court to victimes of asbestos-related diseaseas, sending some firms into bankruptcy, while otherw have paid huge settlements to avoid jury trials. The sickest victims are croweded in massive class-action lawsuits, sometimes resultin gin little compensation for their deadly or debilitating illnesses.

The Senate Judiciary Committee passed a bill in July 2003 that would end all asbestos lawsuits and create a federally administered trust fund--paid for by defendant companies in the lawsuits and by insurers--to compensate victims of asbestos-related illnesses. I see reforming the asbestos litigation system as part of a larger push to limit the tort system. Victims and businesses are suffering. Legislation is desperately needed that both ensures equity through proper compensation for victims and economic revitalization through financial certainty for companies. I look forward to the House addressing this issue in the coming months.

JUDICIAL APPOINTMENTS: A group of Senate Democrats are playing disturbing procedural games to thwart President Bush’s judicial nominees and in turn, the will of the American people. The result of these tactics: a crisis in the Senate, and a crisis in our judiciary. Highly qualified judges wait years to get an up-or-down vote from the Senate, while partisans search in vain for reasons to reject them. Meanwhile, vacancies on the bench and overcrowded court dockets are causing unacceptable delays for citizens seeking justice. A dangerous precedent that threatens judicial independence is being set by the obstructionist tactics. The confirmation process is broken, and it must be fixed for the good of the country. These nominees are highly qualified and represent the mainstream of American law and American values.

Well over two years ago, President Bush announced his first eleven nominees to the Federal Appeals Court. Eight of them waited more than a year without an up-or-down vote in the Senate—more than in the last 50 years combined. Three of the original group have waited two years.

Now, Miguel Estrada has withdrawn himself from consideration in an effort to make plans for his family. Mr. Estrada received disgraceful treatment at the hands of the 45 United States senators during the more than two years his nomination was pending.

I believe that freedom and justice hinge on fair and impartial judges. These filibusters are not just business as usual. They are an abandonment of the Senate’s constitutional responsibility, and it is hurting our country. While senators stall and cling to old grudges, American justice is suffering. Dockets are overcrowded, judges are overworked and citizens are waiting too long for their cases to be heard.

I call upon my Senate colleagues to fix this broken process.

PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE:

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Related Press Releases
03/24/2004 - MILLER CALLS ON SUPREME COURT TO “DO THE RIGHT THING,” RULE PLEDGE CONSTITUTIONAL
11/18/2003 - MILLER STATEMENT ON THE MASSACHUSETTS GAY MARRIAGE DECISION
09/04/2003 - MILLER TO ATTEND EVENT ON TEN COMMANDMENTS DEFENSE ACT
Related Speeches
03/20/2005 - Floor Statement on S. 686 for the relief of the parents of Theresa Marie Schiavo
09/04/2003 - THE TEN COMMANDMENTS DEFENSE ACT
09/03/2003 - H.R. 1572, THE WINSTON E. ARNOW FEDERAL BUILDING DESIGNATION ACT
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