Alas, we still have Rick Santorum saying Obamacare is the same as what he calls “Romneycare”; the otherwise brilliant Mickey Kaus sniffing that if states can mandate insurance purchases, then we’re “not talking about some basic individual liberty to not purchase stuff” (no, just the nation’s founding document, which protects “basic individual liberties” by putting constraints on Congress); and the former law professor, Barack Obama, alleging that a “good example” of judicial activism would be the Supreme Court (in his words, “a group of people”) overturning “a duly constituted and passed law.”
I don’t know how a court could overturn a law that hasn’t been “passed.” Otherwise, it wouldn’t be a law, it would be a bill. If it hasn’t even been “constituted,” it wouldn’t be anything at all.
Of course the courts can overturn laws — constituted and passed alike! If anything, the Supreme Court isn’t striking down enough laws.
Suppose Congress passed a law (after constituting it) prohibiting the publication of books about Hillary Clinton. That would be a violation of the First Amendment and the courts should strike it down. Failing to strike down such a law would be judicial activism.
That’s the judiciary’s job, which has been pretty well established since the 1803 case, Marbury v. Madison, heretofore the second most sacred opinion in the liberal canon. (Roe v. Wade is the first most sacred.)
Marbury captured the imagination of liberals only relatively recently when they realized that, simply as a procedural matter, the courts have the last word.
The judicial branch isn’t above the other two branches — much less the states or the people. It is (one of my favorite words) “co-equal” to the other branches. Indeed, the judiciary was laughably described by Alexander Hamilton in The Federalist Papers as the “least dangerous” branch.
Anticipating nearly every form of government corruption, our framers specifically designed the Constitution to prevent tyranny. But they never imagined the perfidy of 20th-century liberals. (Probably because the framers didn’t have NBC.)
What liberals figured out — and were mendacious enough to exploit — is that there is no obvious recourse for the other branches if the Supreme Court issues an insane ruling. So, beginning in the 1960s, liberals on the court started issuing insane rulings on a regular basis. Rather than referring to the Constitution, some of their opinions were apparently based on the dream journal of Andrea Dworkin.
Soon every law student could recite in his sleep Chief Justice John Marshall’s line in Marbury: “It is emphatically the province and duty of the Judicial Department to say what the law is.” So shut up and go home.
To take one example of a ludicrous ruling, at random, off the top of my head: In 1973, the Supreme Court announced that the Constitution mandates a right to abortion.
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