Thomas Sowell

Liberal emphasis on judges' personal opinions on political issues helps create the impression that judges are deciding the social merits or demerits of policies like affirmative action, abortion, gun control and the like.

Liberal judges often do. But the whole point of the judicial philosophy of people like Janice Rogers Brown is that the political merits of policies are none of a judge's business. The judge is to decide what is legal, according to the written laws and the Constitution, not what the judge happens to like personally or politically.

Justice Brown's long history in hundreds of cases shows that this is in fact what she has lived by. Liberals seize upon cases in which her votes went against their pet policies like affirmative action or teenage abortions without parental notification.

In other cases, however, Justice Brown voted against policies favored by conservatives, leading to protests by the National Rifle Association and conservative newspapers. Although Janice Rogers Brown's own personal views are conservative, she ruled on these cases on the basis of the written law, not what she herself preferred.

Liberal-left hostility to Justice Brown is based on the very opposite of what they claim. Much of the liberal agenda can only be imposed by judges because elected officials cannot keep bucking public opinion. A judge who opposes judicial policy-making is a serious danger to their agenda and they will try to stop such nominees at all costs. Hence the lynch-mob atmosphere and the filibuster threat.

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

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