Ends Do Not Justify the Means
Most Americans realize there are many issues facing this country. They include economic issues, social issues, foreign policy issues, healthcare issues, and everything in between. I don’t believe it’s far fetched to think that many Americans, regardless of their political persuasion, would find commonality on what these issues are. Where Americans differ, is on what the underlying problems are surrounding these issues. As such, there will be great differences on how to address them.
In light of the recent passing of Justice Antonin Scalia, I think it’s important to make the case to the American people as to why this is important. In one of his most famous quotes, Scalia said,
The Constitution is “not a living document. It’s dead, dead, dead.” Scalia added, “The judge who always likes the results he reaches is a bad judge.”
Scalia was issuing a warning to Americans, explaining the ills of activist judges. To issue judgement on cases based on personal or political ideology is a dangerous endeavor. The Constitution is “dead”. This means no one individual nor government branch, can interpret or insert something into that document that is not there.
As a Supreme Court Justice, Scalia has been labeled as an “originalist”. The majority of Constitutional Conservatives in this country would tend to agree with Scalia’s interpretation of The Constitution. A famed Supreme Court nominee, Robert Bork said the following:
“If the Constitution is law, then presumably its meaning, like that of all other law,
is the meaning the lawmakers were understood to have intended. If the Constitution is law, then presumably, like all other law, the meaning the lawmakers intended is as binding upon judges as it is upon legislatures and executives. There is no other sense in which the Constitution can be what article VI proclaims it to be: “Law….” This means, of course, that a judge, no matter on what court he sits, may never create new constitutional rights or destroy old ones. Any time he does so, he violates not only the limits to his own authority but, and for that reason, also violates the rights of the legislature and the people….the philosophy of original understanding is thus a necessary inference from the structure of government apparent on the face of the Constitution.”
The concern of Constitutional Conservatives everywhere is that Obama will nominate an activist as a replacement to the Supreme Court. An activist judge could do irreparable damage to this country. With cases such as Obamacare, immigration, and abortion set to make it to the Supreme Court, conservatives are rightfully concerned.
As Americans, we expect the justices of the Supreme Court to make decisions based on law, not politics or ideologies. Considered an originalist, Justice Scalia based his decision on the original intent of the law. Again, when he stated that the Constitution is “not a living document”, he was arguing against judicial activism.
The Heritage Foundation defines judicial activism this way:
Judicial activism occurs when judges write subjective policy preferences into the law rather than apply the law impartially according to its original meaning. As such, activism does not mean the mere act of striking down a law.
Whether it be justices of the Supreme Court or politicians, the law matters. The Constitution is the foundation on which this country was built. One can not simply justify an action or an interpretation of law based on desired outcomes! Having a “pen and a phone” is not a justifiable approach to achieving an ideological outcome. Nor is it justifiable for the Supreme Court to hear cases that should be decided by the states just so they can achieve a result they desire. Doing so undermines our Constitutional Republic.
In the opening paragraph of this article, I asserted that Americans may find common ground on the types of issues that plague this country. Differences arise among Americans in terms of how to address these issues. At this pivotal time in our nation’s history, it is imperative that we have a Supreme Court that honors our Constitution, not as a living document, but as a rock on which our country is guided. Regardless of any ideology, the rule of law matters. The ends do not justify the means.