Tuesday, May 24, 2005

On Judges and Judging

The above opinion piece, (registration required) makes a pretty good argument. However, I think that the real problem is that the courts have forgotten the golden sanctuary of defining a problem as a political problem, not a legal one.
I can't remember off the top of my head, the hoary case where the Supreme Court refused to hear a case because it declared the issue political, but that has always been the refuge for where the courts should not go.
For instance, when the Mass. Supreme Judicial Court ordered the implementation of gay marriage, was there some hidden right that was accidentally discovered to have been overlooked? Or was it that the political process was taking too long, and the court decided to accelerate it?
The result was the explosion of state constitutional amendments banning gay marriage everywhere else. So, by jumping the gun, the Mass Supreme Court did more to set back gay marriage than Dobbs or others of his ilk could have done.
Rather than attack the problem legally, supporters should have attacked it politically. As in, what does it matter to you if you are straight, and someone who is gay wants to have all of the protections that you enjoy? Instead, the majority of the public, including a large number of Kerry supporters, reacted to this assumption of power by enacting constitutional amendments, since there is no other way to reign in judges.
If judges would stick to determning what is legal, and not to interpreting what they would like legal, the courts would restore their legitimacy. Instead, they have sold out to the desire to change society rapidly, without the benefit of public opinion.
This is not to say that the Republicans are necessarily right about judges. When they wrote their Schiavo law, they did it so poorly, that the judges did their job by saying that there was no reason to intervene. This is symptomatic of the larger problem of legislatures writing muck, and hoping that the courts will sort it out.
That is not the province of the courts. The legislatures must write clear, and unambiguous laws. WE the public need to demand that weasel words are not used in lawmaking, in order to fully and completely understand what our elected representatives are really trying to do. And hold them accountable for those actions.

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