I am sure we are all familiar with the feud developing between the President and the US Courts. In my opinion, the President openly challenged the authority High Court‘s authority to do its job, specifically in this case with regard to questions over “the legalities, etc. of the courts practicing ” judicial review and judicial restraint” when the members are non elected officials! Here we go again; another “jab” at the archaic” nature of our “Constitution!” In my opinion, Obama will not be satisfied until this country is totally collapsed top to bottom!!??!! He has successfully put a strangle-hold on Congress as he legislates from the White House hiding behind Executive Privilege! He has taken control of our governmental organizations and agencies. Now he is trying to set up a civilian police force as competent as our military!!?? Why would he need such an organization when each state has their own guard foe national and state emergencies? He’s trying to take over the electoral college.–Haven’t heard in a while how that effort is going. If he succeeds, there will be no election and He will serve four more years! No one can stop him or at lest so he thinks. Apparently Judge Jerry Smith, 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, disagrees. He has given the DOJ 48 hours to submit a “3″ page responsw, single apaced, explaining the DOJ’s views on the separation os power’s between the Executive Branch and the Courts!! Gutsy move!!
Those words have meaning to every American in this great nation! “We the people”, doesn’t say we white people or we black people, it says, ” We the people of the United States.” Though most blacks were not free at the time, nor were the American Indians directly affected by those words, they now apply to all Americans. as they always have except when men ignored those great words and applied their own selfish interests above the law of the land! “in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty
to ourselves and our posterity”, these words are pretty clear in their meaning. They don’t directly relate themselves to “class, nor race, creed ,or religious affiliation or lack thereof! “do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. During time of threats or war, all Americans defended our nation Since our war for Independence in 1775-6 all races, creeds and people of various national origins have defended America with their lives. From the code crackers in WWII
to the Bedford Boys, to the Tuskagee Airman, America has been valiantly and bravely defended by all races, colors, creeds. Are we a perfect nation, hell no, we are a living, evolving nation, we are the world melting pot, the worlds currs according to some 18th or 19th century European philosphers. We managed to do here in America what no other nation has ever successfully come close to copying, the absorption of a mixing bowl of people from all walks of life into one functioning society or nation. Many try to tear us down, none can show us anything better to date!! We may appear pompous and arrogant at times, we are!
Article 3, Section 1, of the U.S. Constitution says, “The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish.” Article 3, Section 2, provides that the “judicial Power shall extend to all Cases in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority.” Thus, the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court have the power to interpret the Constitution, and laws and treaties of the United States, in response to cases that come before the Court.
In 1796, in Ware v. Hylton, the Supreme Court held a Virginia statute void because it violated a 1783 peace treaty with Great Britain. In Marbury v. Madison (1803) the Supreme Court declared a federal law unconstitutional. These cases established the power of judicial review in the Supreme Court—the power to declare acts of the state governments and of the legislative and executive branches of the federal government null and void if they violate provisions of the Constitution. Since the early 19th century, debate has continued over how federal judges should use their powers. Should they practice restraint, or should they actively expand the scope of the Constitution in their interpretations of law, treaties, and constitutional provisions?
Those who advocate judicial restraint believe the courts should uphold all acts of Congress and state legislatures unless they clearly violate a specific section of the Constitution. In practicing judicial restraint, the courts should defer to the constitutional interpretations of Congress, the President, and others whenever possible. The courts should hesitate to use judicial review to promote new ideas or policy preferences. In short, the courts should interpret the law and not intervene in policy-making.
Over the years eminent Supreme Court Justices such as Felix Frankfurter have called for judicial self-restraint. In West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette (1943), Frankfurter said, “As a member of this Court I am not justified in writing my opinions into the Constitution, no matter how deeply I may cherish them. … It can never be emphasized too much that one’s own opinion about the wisdom or evil of a law should be excluded altogether when one is doing one’s duty on the bench.”
Sometimes judges appear to exceed their power in deciding cases before the Court. They are supposed to exercise judgment in interpreting the law, according to the Constitution. Judicial activists, however, seem to exercise their will to make law in response to legal issues before the Court.
According to the idea of judicial activism, judges should use their powers to correct injustices, especially when the other branches of government do not act to do so. In short, the courts should play an active role in shaping social policy on such issues as civil rights, protection of individual rights, political unfairness, and public morality.
Chief Justice Earl Warren (who served from 1954 to 1969) and many members of the Warren Court, such as William O. Douglas, practiced judicial activism when they boldly used the Constitution to make sweeping social changes promoting such policies as school desegregation and to insure that all Americans had the opportunity to vote and to participate in U.S. society. In 1956 Justice Douglas wrote, “[T]he judiciary must do more than dispense justice in cases and controversies. It must also keep the charter of government current with the times and not allow it to become archaic or out of tune with the needs of the day.”
Arguments against judicial activism
Opponents of judicial activism argue that activist judges make laws, not just interpret them, which is an abuse of their constitutional power. The issue, they claim, is not whether social problems need to be solved but whether the courts should involve themselves in such problem solving. By making decisions about how to run prisons or schools, argue the critics of judicial activism, the courts assume responsibilities that belong exclusively to the legislative and executive branches of government.
Critics of judicial activism worry that court decisions that so freely “interpret” the meaning of the Constitution will undermine public confidence in and respect for the courts. Justice Byron R. White wrote in Bowers v. Hardwick (1986), “The Court is most vulnerable and comes nearest to illegitimacy when it deals with judge-made constitutional law having little or no cognizable [knowable] roots in the language or design of the Constitution.”
In addition, critics point out that federal judges are not elected; they are appointed for life terms. As a result, when judges begin making policy decisions about social or political changes society should make, they become unelected legislators. Consequently, the people lose control of the right to govern themselves. Further, unlike legislatures, courts are not supposed to be open to influence from interest groups. As a result, the courts may not hear different points of view on complex social issues. In legislatures, by contrast, elected officials are responsive to such interests.
Finally, opponents of judicial activism argue that judges lack special expertise in handling such complex tasks as running prisons, administering schools, or determining hiring policies for businesses. Judges are experts in the law, not in managing social institutions.
Opponents of judicial activism point to the constitutional principle of separation of powers (the division of power among the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the federal government) and federalism (the division of power between the states and the federal government) to justify judicial restraint. They claim that judicial activism leads to unconstitutional intrusions of federal judicial power into the duties and powers of the executive and legislative branches of government and into the state governments. In Griswold v. Connecticut (1965), Justice John M. Harlan wrote, “Judicial self-restraint… will be achieved… only by continual insistence upon… the great roles that the doctrines of federalism and separation of powers have played in establishing and preserving American freedoms.”
Arguments for judicial activism Supporters of judicial activism argue that it is necessary to correct injustices and promote needed social changes. They view the courts as institutions of last resort for those in society who lack the political power to influence the other branches of government.
Supporters of judicial activism point out that the courts often step in only after governors and state legislatures have refused to do anything about a problem. For example, neither state legislatures nor Congress acted to ban racially segregated schools, trains, city buses, parks, and other public facilities for decades. Segregation might still exist legally if the Supreme Court had not declared it unconstitutional in 1954.
Supporters of judicial activism also mention that local courts and judges are uniquely qualified to ensure that local officials uphold the guarantees of the Constitution. In fact, with a few exceptions, district court judges have written most of the decisions affecting local institutions. For example, an Alabama judge took over the administration of the prison system in that state because he decided that the conditions in the prisons violated the Constitution’s prohibition of “cruel and unusual punishments.” Similarly, a Texas judge, a man born and raised in the Lone Star State, ordered sweeping changes in the Texas prison system. And a Massachusetts judge, himself a Boston resident, ordered massive school desegregation in that northern city. In each case, the district judge adopted an activist solution to a problem. But each pursued an activist course because he felt that only such measures would enforce the dictates of the Constitution.
Judicial activists argue that the courts do not create policy as legislatures do. Judges inevitably shape policy, however, as they interpret the law. And, they argue, interpreting the law is the job of the courts. Chief Justice Earl Warren put it this way: “When two [people] come into Court, one may say: ‘an act of Congress means this.’ The other says it means the opposite. We [the Court] then say it means one of the two or something else in between. In that way we are making the law, aren’t we?”
Finally, judicial activists argue that the framers of the Constitution expected the courts to interpret the Constitution actively in order to react to new conditions. As Justice Frank Murphy wrote in Schneiderman v. United States (1943), “The constitutional fathers, fresh from a revolution, did not forge a political strait-jacket for the generations to come.”
See also Constitutional construction; Judicial power; Judicial review; Separation of powers.
Many felt the President’s words were a threat or warning to the SCOTUS. I took his remarks as a threat to our independence on a national level! He and his radical cronies will never stop trying to over-through America. When will traitors be treated as such instead of simply appeasing them? We aew watching the “enemies from within” that I first started writing about over six year ago at work in America., no longer hiding!!??
Harry H. Wellington, Interpreting the Constitution: The Supreme Court and the Process of Adjudication (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1991)
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