Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

The dangerous legacy of the Civil Rights Movement

In the 1950s, in certain states, the state legislatures, executive branches and the judiciary colluded to perpetuate the horrors of Jim Crow. In these hermetically-sealed states, no one opposed to this status quo could gain any traction to change the situation. It was logical, therefore, to look outward, and the most effective help could be obtained in the federal judicial system. Unlike the state court judges, these federal judges would actually compare the Jim Crow laws to the United States Constitution and act if the laws violated Constitutional rights. The Federal Judicial tactic worked and broke the back of Jim Crow (something that was inarguably a "good thing"). The problem is that the lessons of the Civil Rights Movement, rather than being understood as a unique response to an aberrant system, now inform the Left's entire view of our country's civic process. The Left has no faith in the Legislature, either state or federal, and routinely places all of its faith in the judiciary. The Left, in other words, has essentially abandoned Democracy in favor of rule by judges. Now, there are a lot of good, decent judges out there. There are also a lot of narrow-minded, unintelligent, doctrinally-driven political hacks. In the federal sphere, they're appointed, not elected, and they serve for life with minimal oversight. I say minimal because the District Court judges can be overturned by the Appellate Court judges, and the Appellate Court judges can be overturned by the Supreme Court but, in fact, most decisions are not overturned. In addition, of course, nobody looks over the Supreme Court's shoulder, explaining the increasingly violent battles to ensure that doctrinally "proper" judges occupy those seats. Judges, who understand that they are now in a position, not only to act as judges, but to co-opt the legislative role, and who understand that they are only nominally answerable to anybody, are acting as any normal person would in that position: they are doing whatever the heck they want. They are becoming the living embodiment of Lord Acton's warning that "power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." We're at a tipping point now, with the possibility that we can still revert to a true Demoracy, with power residing in the Legislature (which is elected by the people), not the judiciary. Just make sure to pressure your Congress people when non-activist judges are proposed for the federal bench. And, if you have elected state judges, be sure to vote for those who indicate that the believe their job is to interpret, not create, the law.