I was not expecting to hear President Obama speak out against activist judges. For decades, our liberals have depended on the courts to accomplish what voters would find repugnant. A good example was the recent decision by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals which stuck down California’s Proposition 8. Proposition 8 was an amendment to the California Constitution, duly passed by the voters of that state, declaring a marriage to be between a man and a woman. The federal court ruled it was unconstitutional. Where was the outrage by our president?
Obama seemed to be threatening the Supreme Court justices who might soon overturn his Health Care Reform Act (Obamacare). He was reported as saying, “I’d just remind conservative commentators that for years what we’ve heard is the biggest problem on the bench is judicial activism or a lack of judicial restraint — that an unelected group of people would somehow overturn a duly constituted and passed law.”
We must wonder what President Obama learned at Harvard Law School. In his lifetime, he has seen the courts use legal gymnastics to decide that a woman has a right to destroy an unborn baby in her womb (Roe vs. Wade 1973). In 1963 (Engel v. Vitale), our high court decided that prayer in public schools is unconstitutional. Hmmm, why did no one ever come to that conclusion in the previous 171 years since the First Amendment was ratified?
Obama actually has a valid point. The Constitution of the United States does not give the judicial branch the authority of constitutional review. The court assumed that role in the 1803 Marbury vs. Madison case. We see a problem with consistency, however. Is he really against activist judges or just the ones who disagree with him? In fact, the President himself appointed as Supreme Court justice — perhaps the queen of activist judges — Sonia Sotomayor. As a justice on the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, she was quoted as saying, “The court of appeals is where policy is made.” Where policy is made? The role of the judicial branch is to interpret the law, not make policy. One difference between the recent hearings and some of the other cases mentioned above: Obamacare is clearly unconstitutional. Nowhere can we find precedent for forcing people to buy health insurance. Mr. Obama sounds like a bully used to getting his way.
We must hope that in the November election, we put people in office who have a more balanced perspective.
Russell A. Scott