Thomas Sowell

The political left is all for judicial activism, because courts can impose much of the liberal agenda that most elected officials are afraid to impose, such as racial quotas, gay marriage and driving religious expression underground.

Bitter and ugly fights over judicial nominees are one consequence of liberals' heavy dependence on judges to impose policies which elected officials dare not impose. Decent, honorable and highly qualified people like California Justice Janice Rogers Brown are smeared and lied about because they insist that what the Constitution says still matters.

Sadly, the idea that judges are to make social policy, not just enforce the Constitution and the statutes, has spread even among some conservative constituencies. The National Rifle Association, for example, attacked Justice Brown for upholding California's assault weapons ban.

The issue was not whether Justice Brown personally favored this ban or not. The issue was whether the state legislature had the right to impose such a ban. Since there is no right to bear arms in the California Constitution, and state judges are bound by federal courts' interpretation of that right in the federal Constitution, this decision was the only one to make.

We can't vote for federal judges but we can vote for those who appoint them and those who confirm them. We need to remember judges -- and the Constitution -- when we are in that voting booth, if we want our votes to continue to mean something.


Thomas Sowell

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

Creators Syndicate