Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Stop Tinkering with `the Law of the Land'

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Stop Tinkering with `the Law of the Land'

Article excerpt

Among the many battlegrounds on which the cultural wars of our time are being fought, none is more important than the Supreme Court of the United States. Things the cultural elite believes in, but the public does not - group quotas and expansive rights for criminals, vagrants and AIDS carriers, for example - find the Supreme Court a valuable instrument. There, things that elected officials would not dare to do can be done in the name of the Constitution and become "the law of the land."

Here, as in other institutions, those who are seeking to replace traditional values with a radically different vision have been quite clear and quite ruthless in what they have been doing over the past several decades. The heroes of the cultural elites during this era - Justices William Brennan, Thurgood Marshall, Harry Blackmun, Earl Warren, William O. Douglas - have treated the words of the Constitution as nothing more than a launching pad for judicial adventures into the wild blue yonder of social policy-making.

One of the reasons one side has been winning the cultural wars around the country is that most people on the other side seem unaware that a war is going on.

After activist justices blithely toppled precedent after precedent for decades - to the cheers of the liberals in the media and in academia - the first trimming back of these new legal doctrines has brought a chorus of condemnation from those same quarters that precedents were no longer being respected!

Both the Constitution and the precedents are important concerns and no one with respect for the law can be happy to go against either. However, justices who cynically used the Constitution as a political lever for their own policy-making have left no way for subsequent justices to honor both the Constitution and a whole series of decisions with no basis in the Constitution.

The problem is not that everyone goes along with the judicial activist approach or that a majority of the current court goes along with it. The real difference is between those who understand what has been happening - and who are willing to make the hard choices needed to reverse the dangerous trend toward increasing judicial usurpation of power - and those who do not have the clarity of mind or the stomach for such a task. …

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