Mona Charen

Anyone who rises to the Supreme Court knows that justices are not actually supposed to impose their policy preferences. Not even the most assertive judicial activist would proudly claim the title. Instead, he'll cloak his intentions under the dodge of "due process" or "privacy" or "liberty." Law clerks are employed to disguise bald judicial legislation as disinterested jurisprudence.

In Lawrence vs. Texas, the Court's majority actually relied on everything but the actual words of the Constitution, citing even the European Union for the proposition that homosexual unions are not to be criminalized.

Justice Thomas was succinct in dissent. He said he found the Texas law criminalizing homosexual sodomy to be "silly" (the term the Court had used about Connecticut's anti-contraceptive law in Griswold vs. Connecticut). "If I were a member of the Texas legislature, I would vote to repeal it." But his duty, as he and (sadly) only one or two others on the Court understand it, is to "decide cases agreeably to the Constitution and laws of the United States."

Justice Scalia has come in for a good deal of criticism for his scathing dissents. His detractors charge that ridiculing one's adversaries is no way to win friends and influence people. Perhaps. But Scalia is never personal, and his wrath grows out of frustration for a majority that consistently refuses to restrain its overmastering desire to become a legislature -- no, a super-legislature, since Supreme Court decisions on constitutional questions cannot be overridden except by constitutional amendment.

Only 17 years ago, the Supreme Court held in Bowers vs. Hardwick that there was no "fundamental right" to homosexual sodomy and that, accordingly, the state of Georgia was free to criminalize it. One cannot emphasize enough that this was not an endorsement of such laws, merely a statement of the fact that states have great latitude to legislate. Only when a state inhibits the exercise of a "fundamental right" does the Court traditionally consider invalidating a state law.

In the years since Bowers was decided, has homosexual sex suddenly become a fundamental right? The opinion by Justice Kennedy declined to say so explicitly, relying instead on an "emerging awareness that liberty gives substantial protection to adult persons in deciding how to conduct their private lives in matters pertaining to sex." Justice O'Connor ruled with the majority in Bowers and has now reversed herself.

Mona Charen

Mona Charen is a syndicated columnist, political analyst and author of Do-Gooders: How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim to Help .
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