SCOTUS Focus

The unfortunate death of Justice Scalia has brought election year turmoil to the process of selecting a replacement.  Democrats demand prompt action while Republicans advocate for “wait until next year” even though they know they may not win.  The Constitution doesn’t specify a number of justices for the Court, which began with 6 and has had as many as 10, so this really isn’t a constitutional argument; it’s a political one.  The Supreme Court, with it’s authority to review laws for constitutionality, was supposed to serve as a somewhat independent check on overreaches of power by either the executive or legislative branches.  Instead it has become  a pawn of partisan conflict.

When a president appoints a justice solely to advance a party agenda, overturn previous rulings, or “legislate from the bench” the court becomes an arm of the executive branch with influence much longer than the president’s term of office.   That isn’t what the authors of the Constitution intended.  In it’s pursuit of collectivism the far left sees the Court as a means to nullify the individual rights granted by Bill of Rights.  The Court has no authority to amend the Constitution or repeal its amendments.  Justice Scalia understood that.  There’s a procedure for amending the Constitution that requires more than a court decision.

Freedom: it’s easy to lose and almost impossible to get back.

The Supreme Court: Gavel or Hammer?

The Supreme Court gets it’s gavel from Article III of the Constitution, which establishes it and authorizes Congress to create the lower federal court system.  The Supreme Court’s job is to determine the constitutionality of laws and presidential actions, theoretically preventing excesses from the other two branches.  Lower Federal courts can make constitutional rulings too but they’re appealable to the Supreme Court.   Alexander Hamilton considered the Supreme Court to be the “least dangerous” branch of government because it lacked executive or legislative powers, but that hasn’t proven true.  Using Judicial Review it can overturn the actions of our elected officials.  An “activist” court can effectively legislate. That’s awesome power for a panel of judges who are appointed for life by the president and out of the reach of the voting booth, and it’s a powerful reason for maintaining presidential term limits.  It’s naive to think that judges are totally impartial and nonpartisan.  A judge appointed by the president will probably have similar opinions on how things should be in the USA.  We often hear about the “conservative/liberal” balance in the court.  Typically conservatives use the gavel to uphold the Constitution while liberals use it as a hammer to chip away at the Bill of Rights. Have some recent court rulings been about the Constitution or about a political agenda?  If they have it’s time to consider a 12 to 18 year term limit for Supreme Court justices along with a mandatory retirement age.