Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

“In Republics, the great danger is, that the majority may not sufficiently respect the rights of the minority.”     James Madison

March 29, 2012

Quote Of The Day

by Brad Warbiany

Is there a more worthless phrase on the political landscape than “judicial activism”?

And a court that gave us Bush v. Gore and Citizens United will prove conclusively that it sees no limits on its power, no need to defer to those elected to make our laws. A Supreme Court that is supposed to give us justice will instead deliver ideology.

Really? EJ Dionne thinks that a legislature should be able to do whatever it wants, even if it violates the Constitution (as the Florida elections board did in Bush v. Gore and the US Congress did in Citizens United)? So he wants to throw out the entire doctrine of judicial review that’s existed since the days of English Common Law & Marbury v. Madison?

No, I don’t think that’s it. I don’t think he supports the Congress doing things that are unconstitutional. He’s just attacking the Court for striking down policies he likes. Just as conservatives do when the Court strikes down policies they like.

Claims of “judicial activism” are just criticisms of a Court doing something you disapprove of. But claims that the Court should defer to the legislature are misplaced — the Court is a check on the power of the legislature, as it should be. It’s there to rein in the legislature when they try to do something beyond the bounds of their Constitutional authority. That’s not judicial activism, that’s their job.

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2 Comments

  1. Yeah, I remember when conservatives were complaining about “judicial activism” when SCOTUS refused to get involved in the Terri Schiavo drama. SCOTUS basically said that this was a matter for Florida to deal with; not their call. If anything this was a case of judicial restraint (and IMO SCOTUS made the right call here).

    I’ve reached the same conclusion that “judicial activism” depends entirely on whose ox is being gored. It’s one of the most dishonest political terms in the national debate.

    Comment by Stephen Littau — March 29, 2012 @ 3:21 pm
  2. For what it’s worth, I think there is such a thing as “judicial activism”, but you’re right that the term has been abused beyond all recognition.

    Comment by Jeff Molby — March 31, 2012 @ 2:55 am

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