Thursday, May 15, 2008

Loving and more

Ruth Marcus, in yesterday's Washington Post column discusses Loving v. Virginia in the context of John McCain's recent railings about "unelected judges" ignoring the "will of the people." She takes McCain to task for these statements. She also wonders whether the current court would have reached the same conclusion that was reached in 1967 and wonders how McCain and other critics would have reacted to the Loving decision.

The Supreme Court is not supposed to be driven by the "will of the people." The constitution is anti-majoritarian, putting limits on the powers of government and protecting the rights of individuals against persecution by the majority. People may disagree with the logic of specific Supreme Court decisions, but statements like McCain's (and many other politicians and pundits, mostly from the right side of the political spectrum) show a lack of respect for the Supreme Court's constitutional role as well as a lack of respect for the constitution itself.

Before denouncing a court's decision it would also be wise to take the time to understand the court's rationale. When state or a federal courts rule legislative actions to be unconstitutional, they are finding that the legislative actions violate principles of the state or federal constitution. Many constitutional provisions concerning civil liberties are broad statements to guide how our society should be governed. It is the courts' role to ensure that we meet the standards that we aspire to through the constitution and reject laws that fail to meet those standards. A little reflection should be in order to ponder what those basic principles mean before trashing the decisions implementing them.

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1 comment:

Elrond Hubbard said...

Strangely, folks who gripe about unelected judges seem to have no problem with unelected presidents. Will someone tell them that presidents are supposed to be elected, judges (Supreme Court ones at least) are not?