Sunday, January 24, 2010

Conservative Activist Judges

For years, conservatives have flogged the theme of “liberal activist judges”. The message is that unelected, liberal judges subvert the will of the people when they overturn laws on constitutional grounds.

The Supreme Court’s recent decision to overturn nearly 100 years of precedent and allow corporations unfettered rights to influence political campaigns should put to rest the canard that activist judges are by definition liberal. This stunning decision was promoted by the Court’s most conservative justices, including Chief Justice Roberts.

You may remember how when Roberts was being confirmed he said he was a conservative judge who would respect precedent and favor incremental, narrow rulings over sweeping motions. His actions in the recent case show that he has either a short memory, or simply lied to advance his confirmation. He is a conservative activist judge who ignored precedent and used a case that could have been interpreted narrowly to hand vast powers to the corporations who already hold too much influence in Washington. No one can deny that this was a radical, activist ruling enacted by a staunch conservative.

It should be clear by now that conservatives don’t really care about judicial activism. Judicial activism is only a bad thing if it works against their purposes. The duplicity of this no longer surprises me. What surprises me is how Democrats continue to ignore the obvious and allow for the confirmation of radicals like Roberts.

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