September 22, 2003

Tyrants in robes

By: AFF Editors

It is time to be afraid of the courts.

Judges have long ago seized the power to overturn the laws passed by our democratically elected lawmakers. For decades now they have extended that to actually legislating and issuing orders from the bench, rendering moot our democratic branches of government.

Now, the courts have made themselves supreme to state constitutions and statutes in dictating when we’re allowed to hold democratic elections to replace our leaders.

Imagine if judges in Venezuela appointed by Hugo Chavez’s party suspended a legally mandated election, keeping the strongman in power indefinitely. The U.S. and the world would not look kindly on it. This is precisely what a three-judge panel in the 9th District has done, protecting Gray Davis from the reach of the voters.

Just because the California recall was not a regular quadrennial election does not mean its date was fluid. No, any reading of the state constitution dictates that the election must be held on October 7. But three federal judges have decided that the rule of law and the institution of democracy are not sufficiently compelling interests. More worrisome, they have arrogated to themselves the power to stop the machinery of democracy.

Sadly, the 9th-Circuit ruling is not an aberration. nor are such power-grabs unique to the San Francisco-based federal court.

All areas of law, government and, increasingly, private life, are subject to the heavy hand of courts on both the state and federal level.

The American people and their lawmakers are not allowed to do anything about the second-leading cause of death in our country: abortion. The U.S. Supreme Court, over thirty years ago, through a startling feat of jurisprudential gymnastics, invented an inalienable right for doctors to kill children in a woman’s uterus, granting the mother consented.

If elected lawmakers or popular votes had instituted abortion on demand in America, we would have only ourselves to blame. Instead, unelected lawyers imposing their elitist view of the ideal social order have forced abortion on the entire nation.

The New Jersey Supreme Court in 2000 ruled that the Boy Scouts of America could not be allowed to assemble under their own rules, dictated by deeply-held moral and Christian teaching. Specifically, the court ruled that the Boy Scouts had to admit homosexual men into the position of being young boys’ scoutmasters.

By the slimmest of majorities, the U.S. Supreme Court overruled the Jersey bench, leaving us one judge short of a nation where any private association was subject to the moral approval of the avant-garde judiciary.

But the U.S. Supreme Court has no problem changing the rules of other private groups. The Professional Golf Association (PGA), for example, was forced to change its rules so that a disabled golfer, who was unable to walk all 18 holes, could play in its tournaments.

The court found that the PGA had no compelling interest in banning golf carts in tournament play. This should be alarming to anyone who thought freedom consisted in part of determining for oneself what is and what isn’t a compelling interest.

In Nevada, a court has raised taxes on the state’s citizens, ruling that the legislature was shirking its duties by not seizing more of the constituents’ wealth. Yes, judges have hiked taxes.

It is likely that some day in our lives, state and federal courts will take up the tasks of rejecting or approving budgets broadly, perhaps referencing the duty to work towards a “more perfect union.”

The homosexual agenda, namely, the push to incorporate homosexual pairings into the institution of marriage, is driven almost exclusively by the courts. In Hawaii and California, the courts are consistently pushing homosexual marriage while legislatures and referenda stick up for traditional marriage. Even in Vermont, Governor Howard Dean and the Democrat-dominated legislature codified civil unions only after the court dictated legal recognition of such relationships.

Inevitably, the U.S. Supreme Court will force all states to accept and condone homosexual marriage.

The broad issue of the courts pushing their own agenda is not one of the law and constitution being at odds with popular sentiment. That happens in some cases, such as the line-item veto and early parts of the New Deal. No, many federal judges now see themselves as agents of social change, and they will use any means necessary to create their utopia.

One of the 9th-Circuit’s all-stars, Judge Harry Pregerson, is not bashful about this. He confessed in his confirmation hearing that whenever his conscience and the law were at odds, he would follow his conscience.

These judges consciences may be informed by good intentions, but checks and balances were instituted to guard against good intentions just as much as corruption. Federal and state judges are unchecked by statute, the constitution, or the voters.

Americans who love freedom and tradition, standing in the face of such unprecedented and ruthless power, are right to be afraid.

Tim Carney is a reporter for the Evans-Novak Political Report.