Sunday, April 1, 2012

Politicizing the Supreme Court

Conservative Supreme Court justices led by Antonin Scalia showed took a nakedly partisan political approach to deliberations on the health care reform law according to today's New York Times editorial.

For anyone who still thought legal conservatives are dedicated to judicial restraint, the oral arguments before the Supreme Court on the health care case should put that idea to rest. There has been no court less restrained in signaling its willingness to replace law made by Congress with law made by justices. This should not be surprising. Republican administrations, spurred by conservative interest groups since the 1980s, handpicked each of the conservative justices to reshape or strike down law that fails to reflect conservative political ideology.

When Antonin Scalia and Anthony Kennedy were selected by the Reagan administration, the goal was to choose judges who would be eager to undo liberal precedents. By the time John Roberts Jr. and Samuel Alito Jr. were selected in the second Bush administration, judicial “restraint” was no longer an aim among conservatives. They were chosen because their professional records showed that they would advance a political ideology that limits government and promotes market freedoms, with less regard to the general welfare.

Conservatives have long railed against "judicial activist" liberal judges "legislating from the bench." Yet, defining judicial activism as departing from established legal precedent, the conservative justices are the most activist by far. The Supreme Court has traditionally held itself above politics yet Justice Scalia sounded like a Republican political operative in this week's deliberations.

--Ballard Burgher

No comments: