The Supreme Court, of course, profoundly influences the character of our country.
Although, for instance, many look back on the policies of Franklin Roosevelt and his New Deal programs as the beginning of the real growth of the American welfare state, it is really key Supreme Court decisions during that time that enabled all of this. Court decisions changing the interpretation of “general welfare”, interstate commerce, and the authority of the federal government to tax changed the game and opened a new era of big government.
At the beginning of the 1930’s, the federal government’s take of national GDP was a little over ten percent. By the mid-1940’s it was over twenty percent, and the trend has been only upward since.
Although much of the discussion about judicial philosophy contrasts how conservative and liberal judges relate to the constitution, I think the real key to conservative and liberal divergence is the world view these judges already have when they sit down to interpret the constitution.
The statement of vision defining American values appears in the Declaration of Independence. Understanding that vision is where I think the most fundamental conservative versus liberal divide exists.
Consider how President Obama relates to the Constitution, as he wrote in his book The Audacity of Hope – “Implicit in its structure, in the very idea of ordered liberty, was a rejection of absolute truth….”
Our president is a moral relativist. So we may expect that he doesn’t take very seriously the idea, as state in the Declaration of Independence, that there are absolutes. That we have God given rights that precede government and that the job of government is to secure them.
Rather than seeing government’s job as securing our rights, the liberal sees it to invent them. The politician – or the empathetic judge – defines what is moral and just.
There’s a lot of speculation about what is driving the tea party movement and why, as reflected in the latest survey by the Pew Research Foundation, Americans’ trust in government is at an all time low.
I think most fundamentally it’s discomfort with this moral relativism that is driving the pervasive unrest.