If Americans loved judicial activism, liberals wouldn't be lying about what it is. Judicial activism means making up constitutional rights in order to strike down laws the justices don't like based on their personal preferences. It's not judicial activism to strike down laws because they violate the Constitution.
But liberals have recently taken to pretending judicial activism is – as The New York Times has said repeatedly – voting "to invalidate laws passed by Congress." Invalidating laws has absolutely nothing to do with "judicial activism." It depends on whether the law is unconstitutional or not. That's really the key point.
That's why we have a judicial branch, Mr. Sulzberger, publisher of The New York Times. It's not a make-work program for the black robe industry. It's a third branch of our government. You'll learn more about this concept next year when you're in the seventh grade, Pinch.
If Congress passed a law prohibiting speech criticizing Bush, or banning blacks from owning property, or giving foreigners the right to run for president – all those laws could be properly struck down by the Supreme Court. That's not "judicial activism," it's "judicial."
Invalidating a law that prohibits killing unborn children on the preposterous grounds that the Constitution contains an extra-double-secret right to abortion no one had noticed for 200 years – that's judicial activism. When conservative judges strike down laws, it's because of what's in the Constitution. When liberal judges strike down laws (or impose new laws, such as tax increases), it's because of what's in The New York Times.
The left's redefinition of judicial activism to mean something it's not allows liberals to claim they oppose judicial activism and to launch spirited denunciations of conservative judges as the real "judicial activists." This is the Democrats' new approach to winning arguments: Change the definition of words in mid-argument without telling the guy you're arguing with.
Thursday, September 15, 2005
If You Mean By 'Judicial Activism', 'Refraining From Judicial Activism', Then, Why, Yes, We're Against That
A middling Ann Coulter column has this good, meaty section (and I've emphasized a good quip in bold):