Thursday, May 26, 2005

Judicial Activism

From Paul Campos in the Rocky Mountain News:
Imagine a society that makes many of its most important decisions in the following manner: a tiny number of citizens are anointed members of a priestly caste, which has the power to determine the society’s most fundamental rules.

The priests make these decisions by consulting ancient texts, written in an archaic language that remains incomprehensible to much of the laity. Nevertheless impious souls sometimes point out that the texts don’t appear to answer the questions which the priests ask of them. This impression is reinforced by the fact that members of the priesthood disagree violently among themselves regarding what the texts actually say

Imagine further that, in this strange society, members of the priesthood are appointed for life by a legislative council that often has no clear idea what a priestly candidate’s views are regarding the meaning of the ancient texts. This is a consequence of a custom that declares it improper to inquire too closely into a potential priest’s views on such matters, when his fitness for the priesthood is considered.

The oddest feature of this society is that it considers itself a model of democratic rule, even though it has placed a great deal of political power in the hands of an unelected, life-tenured, and thoroughly mysterious priesthood.
Campos is a bit off-base on one point. It is considered proper to inquire about the priest’s views during confirmation. Indeed, the Democrats have made supporting Roe v. Wade a litmus test that all judges must pass.

That is, in fact, sensible on their part. But the Republicans need to be equally rigorous in imposing their own litmus test. They should insist that any judges they appoint are committed to overturn Roe v. Wade.

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