For a party that loves to bleat about upholding the Constitution, the GOP sings a different tune when things don’t go their way. Take for instance, the Supreme Court. They’re just fine when they get a decision they like —the Hobby Lobby ruling for example. But when things don’t go their way, all we hear is yelling about “activist judges,” and now, those who were once heroes of the cause are lumped in with those awful libs. Upholding Obamacare was bad enough but the marriage equality ruling—well, that was a deal breaker.
So what’s a staunch defender of the Constitution to do? Why, change the founding document to suit one’s view of how things should be in the good old USA.
Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), that bastion of moral superiority, convened a Senate hearing last week to investigate the best way to accomplish that goal. The hearing was titled “With Prejudice: Supreme Court Activism and Possible Solutions.”
Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) was quick to throw in his two cents: “When I see what’s happened at the Supreme Court level, it strikes me as a foreign, unhistorical approach to the law. It’s just breathtaking, some of things that have happened.”
Okay, I can get on board with that—if you’re talking about SCOTUS deciding the 2000 election by calling a halt to the Florida vote count. But was there any hue and cry about judicial activism from the GOP then? Nope. When the Supreme Court decided that corporations were people—when’s the last time you saw Exxon walking down the street?—there was nary a peep of dissent. There were, however, cheers and ridiculous statements that of course corporations are people, and shut your mouth if you disagree and besides, you lost.
Ideas tossed around in the session included Cruz’s idea of holding national elections to vote justices out of office for decisions the public doesn’t like. Others are for impeachment, which seems to be the GOP answer for a variety of things, whether it is warranted or not.
Edward Whelan, president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, was a witness at the proceeding and suggested changing the constitutional amendment process as well as finding opportunities to override decisions, term limits, and more mechanisms to remove bad judges. The criteria for bad judges seems to be if those judges hand down a decision that is contrary to GOP goals.
For people who claim to be so devoted to the Constitution of the United States, it is more than a little disturbing that they wish to change the vision our founding fathers had.
Fortunately for the country, not all conservatives are bent on a political revolution that will undermine our democracy. Conservative columnist George Will—a Pulitzer prize winner—characterized the proceedings to change the nature of the Supreme Court “perilous” and stated that it was “particularly disheartening that Cruz, who clerked for Chief Justice William Renquist and who is better equipped by education and experience to think clearly about courts, proposes curing what he considers this court’s political behavior by turning the court into a third political branch.”
President George W. Bush’s solicitor general, Ted Olson, said that Cruz’s idea of a Constitutional amendment “has virtually no chance of succeeding.”
Undeterred, Cruz said, “When we have five unelected judges who are declaring for themselves they can decide every contested policy issue in our society, it is incumbent on elected representatives to take that authority.”
It seems the senator from Texas has forgotten it is the purpose of the Supreme Court to decide those contested issues. It’s called interpreting the Constitution, which is what the justices are supposed to do – whether everyone agrees with their decisions or not.
There have been instances where decisions by the highest court in the land have been reversed by a subsequent SCOTUS decisions. It’s worked that way since 1789 and, despite a few bumps in the road, it’s worked well. But, apparently, not well enough for those who would change the very character of the country.
Thanks to our Contributing Editors Virginia Injury Attorneys Price Benowitz LLP