Sunday, July 10, 2005

Activist judges . . . in the eye of the beholder?

Spottie noticed a very interesting op-ed piece in the New York Times recently. You know how people (virtually all conservatives from Spottie's perspective) are always screaming about activist judges? Spot has always believed and still believes this is just a code phrase for criticizing judges who make rulings that conservatives don't like on things like racial integration, the first amendment, etc.

The co-authors of this article decided one good test of an activist Supreme Court justice is one who is willing to strike down acts of Congress. Obviously that is required from time to time, but one would think that conservative justices would be the least inclined to strike down a law enacted by a democratic (little d) institution, based on conservative rhetoric.

Well, surprise, surprise, surprise as our friend Gomer Pyle used to say.

Using the current Supreme Court as a measure, the authors found that the justices voted to strike down laws passed by Congress in the following percentages:

Thomas 65.63 %
Kennedy 64.06 %
Scalia 56.25 %
Rehnquist 46.88 %
O’Connor 46.77 %
Souter 42.19 %
Stevens 39.34 %
Ginsburg 39.06 %
Breyer 28.13 %

The memebership of the Court has been the same for about ten years now, so there was a pretty good sample size. For those of you who aren't particular Court watchers, the four most conservative justices are at the top, and the four most liberal ones are at the bottom.

So, the next time a communis rixatrix like Katherine Kersten or Michele Bachmann bleats about activist judges, just dismiss it for the flatulence it is.


Ben said...

yes I'm sure the people that did an op-ed piece were entirely non-partisan. Why don't you just quote

Anonymous said...

The authors are a law professor and his researcher assistant law student.