Bill Frist in his Faux News interview made clear “unelected activist judges are tearing down state laws” around the country. Let us clarify for the sake of argument precisely what kind of justices sit on the SCOTUS bench: unelected judges.
Given that, does Frist think the same of the SCOTUS when considering they overturned anti-miscegenation laws? And what about when they invalidated racial segregation in schools and paved the way for ending de jure segregation in all other areas? And when they advanced the doctrine of implied powers, or a loose construction of the Constitution, by granting Congress more authority than is explicitly stated? And when the court guaranteed a defendant’s right to legal counsel even if it came at a cost to the states or the government? And what of the time when the SCOTUS announced debate on public issues would be negatively impacted if public officials could sue the press for inaccuracies that were made by mistake, a decision which strengthened the media’s First Amendment protections? And when they ensured we must all be made aware of our rights when being arrested or detained in the case of Miranda v. Arizona (hence the name “Miranda Rights”)? And abortion? And now gay marriage?
Do Frist’s words infer only the SCOTUS is afforded judicial respect in situations where courts topple long-standing prejudicial legislation? Such a declaration, of course, would insult the Constitution which empowered the courts to make such determinations. I suspect this was not Dr. Idiot’s point.
I do believe he meant this: When social progress demands action and the gift of history shines favorably upon the change, we do not look at the SCOTUS as a horde of “unelected activist judges” arbitrarily dismantling pillars of society like the prohibition of interracial marriage or the state-forced separation of races for the purpose of education, mass transit, and other facilities. On the contrary, those circumstances demand reverence and respect. The beliefs inherent in these cases had far-reaching implications for the advancement of humanity. We dare not question them since they represent who we are as a people. Doing otherwise would certainly be seen as racist, bigoted, and intolerant. Lacking such apparent clarity on the worth of these decisions, on the other hand, surely must mean the judges are activists and their decisions unworthy of respect or contemplation.
Supportive of the conservative agenda against all who are different or who disagree, this aspect of judicial history in fact bolsters the general Republican mentality: subjugate all but the ruling class. Partisan semantics become less sure when history does not provide clear guidance. Thus is the case with gay marriage and flag burning, not to mention abortion.
One might argue the Constitution demands equal protection under the law, and one would be right in such a debate; yet, too much comfort is found in turning that idea on its head when it comes to homosexuals, free speech, or a woman’s body. Reprehensible and disconcerting are the words most appropriate for such considerations. Too many people impose their own strict moral code on others with little regard for what is right and humane, otherwise known as what is constitutional. Law and judgment must always err on the side of liberty and equality lest we forsake all that makes the idea of America so great.
Despite mounting and irrefutable evidence showing sexuality is an aspect of our genetic self, many can not come to terms with that truth and will instead deny it and make every effort to ensure such people are treated as less than human. It is the Golden Rule: he who has the gold makes the rules. In this case, the gold is political power and control over our government. But in acting so contrary to American ideals in support of segregation, dehumanization, and inequality, humankind uses the law to force bigotry on our citizens. We simply find it more pleasant to buttress such outdated and offensive ideals with the “But it’s the law!” excuse. It no longer matters why we believe what we believe; if the law says so, it absolutely must be that way. How many forgot precisely why they didn’t like interracial marriage when they could easily rest such laurels on arbitrary legislation that demanded compliance? Why bother to explain or even face our own prejudices and intolerance when we can just as easily say we do not think something is right because the law says it is so?
With abortion, we consider the history as yet still unwritten. We can therefore argue one side or the other in hopes of forcing our beliefs on the masses. To wit, “we” think women should be able to vote, to hold a job, to compete with men, to be eligible for almost every opportunity afforded the opposite sex (sans combat and other ancient stupidities), to drive, to own property, and the list goes on, yet “we” do not deem them capable of making sound decisions in cases of health and their own bodies. That is, after all, the crux of the abortion debate. Whether you agree with it or not, should we not leave the choice up to the women involved in each case rather than dictating to them precisely what medical care they can and can’t receive? Too many would disagree with that sentiment, I’m afraid, as is evidenced by the renewed war against birth control and abortion. Irrespective of your beliefs, however, the issue is clear: can women make their own decisions? That is the only question to be answered. Conservatives seem to believe they can not and require oversight and regulation in this regard.
Free speech and expression are constitutional guarantees. Should one deign to actually read the Constitution and its amendments, one could easily understand the explicit and implicit liberties it affords us. The First Amendment — Americans need to understand it’s the first for a reason — unambiguously declares “Congress [and the states via the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause] shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” In one sentence our founding fathers graced us with many of our most beloved and critical freedoms. Too many efforts now are being made by too many governments within our nation to abridge our right to express ourselves. As is the case with abortion, I do not like the idea of burning the American flag. To me, that simple piece of cloth lives as a representation of this country’s guiding principles and long-lasting dedication to freedom, traits lost in recent years succumbing to the tyranny of FUD. Regardless of being horrified by the burning of our flag, I must always seek refuge in the free exchange of ideas and opinions. Not to put too fine a point on it, but that includes burning our flag — or anyone else’s.
Frist and his conservative cronies dedicate themselves to stopping social progress by way of legislating morality. The dictates of reason and equality have been lost. In the process, it has also become acceptable to attack the courts for performing the very functions with which they are constitutionally tasked. Unless Bill intends to challenge the SCOTUS, a group of unelected judges who historically have torn down a great many state and national laws in the name of upholding our cherished value of equality, he plays himself the fool by engaging in such reckless folly. Of course, given he insulted the SCOTUS Justices and a good portion of America’s social progress by his statement and is obviously dedicated to the subjugation of minorities in the name of the Christian majority, this comes as no surprise.