Sunday, October 30, 2005

Protect the Constitution from the Supreme Court

Ben Shapiro wrote in Townhall In 1866, when members of the 39th Congress of the United States submitted the Constitution's 14th Amendment to state legislatures for ratification, they would have been stunned to learn that they had just written a provision mandating that homosexual sex be treated on the same moral plane as heterosexual sex. On Friday, Oct. 21, the Kansas Supreme Court, ruling under the Supreme Court precedent of Lawrence v. Texas (2003), decided that the 39th Congress meant just that. A Kansas law penalizing statutory homosexual rape more severely than statutory heterosexual rape was struck down under the 14th Amendment's "equal protection" clause.

This is not the only clause that activist courts, both at the state and federal level, have used to create laws.
The 14th Amendment states, "No State shall … deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." The amendment was specifically designed to protect freed slaves in the aftermath of the Civil War. In particular, the amendment was designed to prevent states from refusing to enforce criminal and civil laws when the victim was black. The 14th Amendment did not abolish segregation in any way, shape or form: Many Northern states, after ratifying the amendment, continued to segregate their public schools.

Over time, the Supreme Court broadened the scope of the "equal protection" clause of the 14th Amendment. The original meaning of the clause was discarded in favor of more expansive interpretations, most notably in Brown v. Board of Education. In ruling state-sponsored segregation unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment, the Supreme Court disconnected the "equal protection" clause from its history and context. In Brown, the outcome (desegregation) was morally unassailable. But by moving above and beyond the Constitution in favor of a higher moral goal, the Supreme Court allotted itself ultimate power: final lawmaking authority. In doing so, the Supreme Court stomped on the most important right for all Americans: their right to vote for duly elected representatives, and the right of those representatives to legislate under the Constitution.... "Equal protection" is no longer a simple bar against racist law enforcement; it is no longer even restricted to race itself. "Equal protection" now means that any law classifying groups differently must meet the Supreme Court's moral standards. Of course, all laws inherently classify groups differently. Murder laws will classify murderers differently than law-abiding citizens. Such laws have always been constitutional. But members of the Supreme Court must now personally agree that legal classifications meet their own moral standards.
If they want to create laws, they should resign from the bench, and run for the legislature, because that is the body the Constitution says should make laws.
Nothing gives the Supreme Court power to overrule popular legislation wherever it pleases. The Constitution does not grant unlimited power to the Supreme Court. We live in a republic, not an oligarchy. No matter whether the Court considers the law in Kansas abhorrent or praiseworthy, it is none of its business under the Constitution. We must trust the people more than we trust tyrants. Anything less is tyranny.


Rosemary said...

While I agree that SCOTUS should notlegislate, I do believe they can find a few thing unconstitutional. Jim Crow was unconstitutional, for example.

Another unconstitutional ruling is the way they treat religion, life, choices of individuals to do as they please within the law as long as it does not harm another, etc.

I would have to brush up to give you some more cases and reasons for my argument. I'm a wee bit sleepy right. :)

Don Singleton said...

I agree they can declare laws unconstitutional but I do not agree with creating new rights just to make something legal or not.

Abortion decisions should have been left to the states, or they should have gotten a majority of the House and the Senate to pass a law, and then gotten the President to sign it

At least then it could have been undone the same way.

Personally I would like to see abortion banned for all states, an anti Roe v Wade would be just as wrong as Roe v Wade was. It would just be conservative activism rather than liberal activism.