by James Muffett, President of Citizens for Traditional Values
There is a battle in our nation between those who believe that judges should follow the law as intended by the legislature, and those who think judges have latitude to interpret the law according to their view of what the law ought to be. The latter are referred to as, “activist judges.”
When judges insert their own personal bias, they usurp the role of the legislators whom the citizens elect to represent them in deciding disputed, difficult policy issues. Thus, judicial activism undermines the very basis of our representative democracy.
It can be argued that activist judges have done more damage to traditional, Judeo-Christian values than the other branches of government combined. The areas of greatest damage include free enterprise, human life, marriage, personal freedoms, property rights and religious liberty.
Judges who usurp the authority of the people are not merely incorrect; they are themselves unconstitutional. And they are unjust. In fact, Justice White in his Roe v. Wade dissent opinion, wrote that the court had acted
“not in constitutional interpretation, but in the unrestrained imposition of its own, extra-constitutional value preferences.”
In addition to short-circuiting the democratic process, this judicial approach creates an environment of unpredictability which ultimately leads to destabilization and more litigation.
When judges exercising the power of judicial review are guided by the text, logic, structure, and original understanding of the Constitution and the law, they deserve our respect and gratitude. By operating with this type of judicial oversight, they are playing their part to make constitutional republican government a reality. But where judges usurp democratic legislative authority by imposing on the people their moral and political preferences, under the guise of fairness or empathy, they should be severely criticized and resolutely opposed.
It is time for all citizens to wake up to this crisis and work to elect “Rule of Law” judges who exercise constitutional authority only to enforce the law as written and ensure that laws apply to everyone equally.
We desperately need judges who recognize the constitutional limited scope of their power and who are committed to the text and clear meaning of the Constitution and other laws.
- McDonald v. City of Chicago
- Conrad in the Dock, by William L. Saunders
- Judicial Activism and the Threat to the Constitution by Robert P. George, Ph.D. [Brochure]
- Judicial Activism and the Constitution: Solving a Growing Crisis by Robert P. George, Ph.D. [Insight paper]
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