Mr. Speaker, I rise tonight to ask a question, and that question is relatively simple. By what legal authority do justices of our Supreme Court use foreign world tribunals, global opinion, and the philosophy of European elites in making their decisions, those decisions that affect all Americans of this Nation? By what license, by what authority do members of America's highest court ignore our Constitution, the Constitution they took an oath to defend, and why do they cite foreign court decisions at all, decisions from England, the European Union, the World Court, Belgium, and numerous other nations? The Constitution clearly does not give them the power to abandon the scriptures of the Constitution. So where do they obtain such authority? Mr. Speaker, has the Supreme Court lost its way?

I imagine that these justices wonder who I am to question them and their use of foreign court decisions in making laws that apply to the rest of us. With all due respect, Mr. Speaker, I am a citizen of the Republic just as they are. I am an elected representative of this House that represents the people. Furthermore, I possess a loyal and lengthy relationship with the law. I am a former instructor in constitutional law. I was a trial prosecutor for 8 years, trying every type of criminal case from theft to kidnapping to capital murder, including cases where the death penalty was assessed and executions were actually carried out.

But more recently, I spent 22 years as a felony court trial judge in Houston, Texas. I heard over 20,000 criminal cases. In fact, I suspect I heard more criminal cases in 1 year than all the nine judges of the Supreme Court decided in an equal amount of time. As a criminal court judge, I used the Constitution, particularly the first 14 amendments, every day. I made decisions that affected people, real people, defendants, victims, and the community. Those decisions affected those individuals for the rest of their lives. I determined whether individuals should lose their property, their liberty, and their freedom. Sometimes the decisions I made even resulted in those individuals losing their life. Yet every one of those 20,000 cases was rooted in the United States Constitution.

Individuals who came to my court, whether they were defendants, victims, or members of the community, knew that the basis of all American law is in the Constitution. Not my personal opinion, not the rulings of foreign nations, and not the World Court. Not even what the French think. It is the Constitution that gives all courts from trial courts to the courts of appeal their foundation, their identity. If I had used any other law but that of the Constitution, I would have been removed from the bench.

In the jury trials over which I presided, the jury too would take an oath to follow the law and the evidence. They were to internalize the law of the Constitution and make their decisions. They were expected to decide the case with domestic law, our law, not the law in some other nation.

Mr. Speaker, if our Supreme Court uses foreign court decisions, why cannot our trial courts use foreign court decisions in their opinions? If the Supreme Court justices are our example, why cannot that example be followed by other judges in America? Is it not good for the gander what is good for the goose?

Using foreign court decisions across the board would create, of course, judicial chaos, judicial anarchy. But yet the Supreme Court does exactly this. Why should the Supreme Court be left to its own devices? If there is any other standard other than the Constitution, than what is next?

Mr. Speaker, looking to foreign court decisions is as relevant as using the writings in ``Reader's Digest,'' a Sears and Roebuck catalogue, a horoscope, my grandmother's recipe for the common cold, looking at tea leaves, star gazing, or the local gossip at the barber shop in Cut N' Shoot, Texas. Mr. Speaker, has the Supreme Court lost its way?

Also, how do our justices know which foreign decisions they will embrace and which ones they will reject? Why have they discriminated and not used the decisions of our neighbors in South and Central America or even Mexico? I have personally witnessed trials in Russia and in China. Why not use those courts' decision in determining American jurisprudence? Who exactly decides what will be used to decide? Is there any longer predictability or uniformity in our legal system?

Mr. Speaker, many of the judicial matters for which our justices consult the opinions of other nations deal with the issue of cruel and unusual punishment. That is a concept addressed in our very own Constitution. Just like the provisions for a jury trial are in our Constitution. Now, I ask this question: If the Supreme Court justices look to foreign courts to define what should be cruel and unusual punishment in our Nation, then I ask what is to restrain them from determining that our guarantee of a jury trial should not be modified? After all, many of the international entities that these justices confer with on judicial principles do not even subscribe to jury trials. Europeans use tribunals. In fact, they disdain the concept of the jury trial. What is next? Will someone on the Supreme Court conclude that the American jury trial system is outdated and should be abolished because it is not the European way?

Perhaps, Mr. Speaker, Justices Anthony Kennedy, Stephen Breyer, Ruth Ginsburg, David Souter, and Sandra Day O'Connor are suffering from the Black Robe disease, an incapacitating, invasive infection imported from Europe. There is a cure to the Black Robe disease, however. It is a dose of the Constitution. A strong dose of our United States Constitution.

Mr. Speaker, trial judges, like I was once was, deal with real people every day. Many of our Supreme Court justices, with all due respect, have for the most part only handled cases on review and on appeal. The consequences of our Constitution occur in our trial courts. Having been down there in the mud and the blood and the beer with people, I have seen the impact of the Constitution on the lives of Americans. We call those consequences justice. Our Supreme Court justices deal in judicial theory, judicial thought. Simply put, it is judicial review. We are talking about the fundamental difference between the original applications of the law and the trenches in a trial court versus the pontifications about the law on the ``mount.'' As a side note, the Supreme Court should not make law. Their duty is to review the Constitution, not revise it, not reinvent it, and certainly not rewrite it.

The Constitution, Mr. Speaker, is the people's document. It is ordained by and subject to the will of the people. It should not be meddled with by anyone, including members of the Supreme Court. If we believe the Constitution delivers justice, does not injustice, on the other hand, flow from calling upon standards like foreign courts, global norms, and international organizations?

Mr. Speaker, I do not criticize the results of the Supreme Court decisions. No one respects the role of the judiciary more than I do. My grave concern, however is rooted in the process and method by which the Supreme Court makes those decisions that affect the rest of us. Their use of foreign court opinions in interpreting American laws. How can the result be fair if the basis for the result is something other than the Constitution?

Mr. Speaker, a historical review of a few Supreme Court decisions is in order. In Thompson v. Oklahoma, Justice John Paul Stevens maintained it would be offensive to civilized standards of decency to execute a person who was less than 16 years of age at the time of the offense.

Referencing the views of other nations that share Anglo-American heritage, as well as leading members of the Western European community, he had tremendous confidence in this decision. Further citing the abolishment of the death penalty in nations like West Germany, France, Portugal, the Netherlands, all Scandinavian countries, and the Soviet Union, as well as the scant use of that penalty in New Zealand and the United Kingdom, Justice Stevens suggested Americans should consider global norms in determining our system of criminal punishments. By what authority does he use these nations as an example for American law?

Mr. Speaker, has the Supreme Court lost its way?

When we hear, as in this case, Mr. Stevens' reference to the United Kingdom's practices, it makes one wonder whether he recalls his high school American history class. I suspect more history is in order at this point.

While engaged in an intense revolution in 1776, our forefathers signed the Declaration of Independence, which boldly sets out the 13 colonies' desire to disband their political union with England forever. In that document, which is just down the street from this building, Thomas Jefferson penned among the list of grievances against King George of England that he combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our Constitution and unacknowledged by our own laws.

Americans, Mr. Speaker, fled from England and Europe because they did not want to be subject to those unfair laws.

Mr. Speaker, over the course of 8 years in the American War of Independence, patriots spilled blood to secure liberty for us and preserve constitutional rights. Their will was to permanently cut the ties with England.

We won the war for American independence, but in 1812 we had to do it all over again, because the British invaded the United States once again because they still wanted America to be subject to the King of England and the law of England. The British were resolute on the recapture this free Nation of America. They even burned this city. They burned this very Capitol, the symbol of democracy. Americans, however, defeated the British for a second time, showing them that we will not do things the English way, the European way or any way except the American way.

Nonetheless, justices here in America across the street from this Capitol choose to use British court decisions and European thought in interpreting the Constitution of this country. What the British never could accomplish by force has our Supreme Court raised the white flag and surrendered to them voluntarily. Has the Supreme Court become like a Benedict Arnold and betrayed the Constitution for the rule of the British empire?

Let us move on to other decisions by our Supreme Court. In Atkins v. Virginia, the justices once more glanced across the seas toward foreign courts, and although over a decade earlier our Supreme Court decided that decisions of international courts were not to be used in the determination of sentencing in the United States, the Supreme Court did a judicial backflip. The justices in this case now in this particular matter listened to the voice of the European Union and the global community at large in making this inconsistent decision.

I ask once again, why not just use the Constitution? Is it because the Constitution does not allow them to do what they do, so they grab European law to justify the decisions that are imposed on the rest of us? Has the Supreme Court lost its way?

Now let us turn to a case in my home State of Texas, the case of Lawrence v. Texas. One of the most egregious perpetrators of citing foreign court decisions is Justice Kennedy. Justice Kennedy referred to international standards in the court's decision and consideration of Texas laws in Lawrence v. Texas. In this instance, writing for the majority, he clung to a previous ruling handed down from one of the most excellent high courts, the European Court of Human Rights.

Mr. Speaker, people in Texas do not care what the European court says about much of anything, but they do care what the Constitution says. Why are we looking to Europe at all, with its not-so-glamorous history and the long lamentable catalogue of human conduct. Europe is no righteous stalwart of human rights.

Europe, you remember. That part of the world that brought us two world wars in the last century. That part of the world where history is littered with episodes of massive religious intolerance and persecution of races. That part of the world where political murder and drawing and quartering were done for entertainment. All the while, a poor man could be hung for killing the king's deer.

Why do we turn for advice to that civilized world? Is that not why we established our Nation to begin with? Is that not why we established the Constitution of the United States?

Just recently, in April, the Supreme Court heard Small v. United States. In 1992, Gary Small shipped several multi-gallon electric water heaters from the United States to Japan. Japanese custom officials searched the container and they uncovered rifles, numerous semiautomatic pistols and several hundred rounds of ammunition. So he was tried and convicted of violating Japanese customs and weapons laws and he went to jail in Japan.

Once he got out of that Japanese jail, however, about one week after he got out, he came to the United States and purchased a 9 millimeter pistol. Following a search of his residence, his vehicle and his business, U.S. Federal authorities discovered this .380 caliber pistol and several hundred rounds of ammunition. Deeming a convicted gun smuggler apprehended with additional ammunition could constitute a danger to society, Federal prosecutors, using common sense, prosecuted him under a U.S. statute which says ex-convicts for weapons violations may not possess guns.

This statute, passed by this Congress prohibits, ``Any person convicted in any court of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding a year to possess any firearm.'' Notice the statute says any court, it does not say U.S. court or state court, but any court.

Nevertheless, when this case went on appeal, the justices of the Supreme Court trumped the law, a law that is on our books, on America's books. They concluded that Congress ordinarily intends its statutes to have domestic, not foreign application. They determined that involving foreign convictions would raise the possibility an individual may not have the entire fairness of the American legal system.

Now it appears the Supreme Court is inconsistent on which foreign decisions they will follow and which ones they will not. Is this the law of chaos? Is this the law of arbitrary decisions?

Just as a side note, Mr. Speaker, the Japanese Constitution was written for the most part by General Douglas MacArthur after the end of World War II.

In any event, something is amiss. This is perplexing. It is appearing that the Supreme Court is becoming inconsistent on which foreign laws they will apply and which ones they will not. With this type of reasoning, when do we accept foreign court opinions and when do we ignore them? Is there any rhyme or reason to this arbitrary justice?

In a rare public debate, Justice Anthony Scalia rightly asked his colleague Justice Breyer this question: ``Do we just use foreign law selectively when it agrees with what the justice would like the case to say? You use that foreign law, and when it does not agree with you, you ignore that foreign law. Nevertheless, the use of foreign law marches on.''

The Supreme Court has also used the law of Jamaica in deciding cases to get a desired result, a result that we in America have to follow.

Further, when the Supreme Court justices have cited opinions from foreign courts in far away lands like that bastion of civil rights, Zimbabwe, was that based on an overriding confidence in the inherent standards of fairness in the country of Zimbabwe and its legal system?

Mr. Speaker, that dog just will not hunt. The last time I checked, Zimbabwe was an authoritarian government ruled by a cold and callous conniving Robert Mugabe, who oppresses political challengers, civil rights activists and jails representatives of the media. It appears the Supreme Court may have lost its way.

It also appears that some of the justices have no intention of curbing this arbitrary and alarming habit any time soon. The black robe disease is spreading. According to Justice O'Connor, the Supreme Court will rely increasingly on international and foreign courts in examining domestic issues. Why? Why do that? Well, she says, because the impressions we create in this world are important.

It sound like the justice makes her decisions based upon the opinions of a worldwide focus group.

Listening to Justice O'Connor, one would think the Supreme Court is the agent of a popularity contest. In Justice O'Connor's view, ``The world really is growing together, through commerce, globalization, the spread of democratic institutions, immigration to America. It is becoming more and more one world of many different kinds of people, and how they are going to live together across the world will be the challenge, and whether our Constitution and how it fits into the governing documents of other nations will be a challenge for the next generations.''

Mr. Speaker, this defies common sense.

Justice Breyer argues that for years, people all over the world have cited the Supreme Court, why do we not cite them occasionally and give them a leg up, so they may then go to some of their legislators and others and say, see, the Supreme Court of the United States cites us.

Well, why not just cite Reader's Digest? Mr. Speaker, this defies common sense.

Justice Scalia concedes foreign authorities may prove useful in devising a Constitution, but not interpreting the Constitution. In fact, the Federalist Papers, which flush out many of the particulars concerning the Founding Fathers' vision and what they thought about America and our Constitution, has discussions of systems of government from other countries, for example, Switzerland and Germany. But there is a difference in using foreign courts and foreign thought to write a Constitution and using foreign thought and courts to interpret our Constitution now that it has been established.

Justice Scalia asks, why? Why is foreign law relevant to what American judges do when they interpret our Constitution? He goes on, answering his own question. The court's discussion of these foreign views is meaningless. It is dangerous, since this court, talking about the Supreme Court, should not impose foreign moods, fads or fashions on Americans.

But that is what happens. That is what happens when our Supreme Court cites foreign courts in making its decisions about the United States Constitution.

Justice Scalia's assessment, Mr. Speaker, is further echoed by the Chief Justice of our Supreme Court, William Rehnquist, who in a dissenting opinion of Atkins v. Virginia wrote, ``The viewpoints of other countries simply are not relevant, and that global notions of justice are, thankfully, not always those of our people.''

One could even travel an additional mile, as Justice Clarence Thomas has, to suggest that citation of foreign authorities really reflects a sign of weakness, an admission that the position for which the foreign authority is cited really lacks support in the United States legal sources, specifically lacks support in the Constitution.

Our Constitution is sacred, Mr. Speaker. It is not a mere list of suggestions. Its values are timeless. The Constitution is complete. It needs no help from foreign courts. America's standards are timeless, and they are in our very own Constitution.

Mr. Speaker, this is not a Democrat or a Republican, liberal or conservative issue. It is an issue of stand with the Constitution and who will go the way of the wayward foreign courts.

When asked during a recent ABC interview whether a day will come when the Constitution will no longer be the last word on the law, Justice O'Connor shared the following. She said, ``Well, you always have the power of entering into treaties with other nations, which also became a part of the law of the land. But I can't really see the day when we won't have a Constitution in our Nation.''

While Justice O'Connor hardly predicts the dark and dreary demise of America's Constitution, her words, Mr. Speaker, are sad. Her words fall far short of assuring us that forever and always the U.S. Constitution will be the lifeline of our land's existence. The more we hear from our Nation's top jurists like Justice Ginsberg that ``our island'' or ``lone ranger mentality is beginning to change,'' and that they ``are becoming more and more open to comparative and international law perspectives, it concerns me a great deal. The Supreme Court has lost its way, and the Black Robe disease is still infecting our court. People speak of the independence of the judiciary. Mr. Speaker, that is a legal myth. A judiciary cannot be independent of the Constitution but, rather, it must be dependent upon its words.

Mr. Speaker, let us in this body, as fellow defenders of the Constitution of the United States, help all people, including those in the Supreme Court, remember our heritage. And until they decide to rejoin the cause of championing our Nation's identity, let us purposefully grip our Constitution with both hands. The Constitution does not give judges, any judges, the authority to use anything as a basis for their decisions except that very Constitution.

Thomas Jefferson, who I cited earlier in writing the Declaration of Independence, years later, in 1820, saw the bleak future for our judiciary and predicted future judicial subversion. He said, ``The judiciary of the United States is the subtle core of individuals and miners constantly working underground to undermine the foundations of our fabric. A judiciary independent of a king or executive alone is a good thing, but independence of the will of the Nation is a travesty.'' And that will of the Nation, Mr. Speaker, is the Constitution uttered straight from the will of the people. Let us remember some of its words. How about the first words of the Constitution to bring us back, back home, back to a perspective of our law. Those words that say, ``We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.''

The Constitution belongs to the people. It is ordained by the people. It does not belong to the Supreme Court for them to bend, rewrite, reinvent, or ignore it under any circumstances. Section 1 of the Constitution dictates that ``The judges, both of the Supreme Court and inferior courts, shall hold their offices during good behavior. I ask this question: Mr. Speaker, does citing foreign court opinions constitute good behavior? History will reveal whether it does or does not. If, however, I carried on like this in my courtroom in Texas, I would have been removed from the bench, and rightfully so. People from where I come from would not stand for a judge citing foreign courts to make decisions that affect Americans.

Perhaps the Justices, Mr. Speaker, should think long and hard about the meaning of good behavior. Serving this Nation is a privilege; it is not a right. We are all accountable to the Constitution that have taken an oath to defend the Constitution.

All of us in this body, this House of the people, this House of Representatives took an oath, an oath that people throughout the lands have taken, people from school boards, police officers, firefighters, city councils, mayors, big cities, and little cities, legislators, Members of Congress; all judges, State, local, and Federal, and the judges of the Supreme Court. We have all taken the same simple and solemn oath, to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States. We owe it to the American people, we owe it to the Constitution, to follow that oath. That is our duty. That is our obligation, and we can do nothing but follow that oath.