Right-Wing Judicial Activism?

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Cynthia Tucker clarifies the meaning of "Judicial Activism" for us:

Ultraconservatives want you to believe the term "activist judge" applies to a group of determined liberals whose rulings have overturned historic precedent, undermined morality and defied common sense. But the controversy that erupted around Schiavo, who died on Thursday, ought to remind us once and for all what "activist judge" really means: a jurist whose rulings dissatisfy a right-wing political constituency.
Actually the former definition is correct. Only a liberal court could find something called a "penumbra" in the U.S. Constitution. Had it not been found, liberals wouldn't have been able to create the right to abortion, a nonexistent right that stems from the nonexistent right to privacy. It didn't matter no such rights existed because the Supreme Court wanted them and with the wave of a pen the problem was solved.

It was the worst case of judicial activism this country has ever seen. In the ugly Terri Schiavo case, conservatives did not want Judge George Greer -- who hails from my hometown -- to rule against law or become an activist. They wanted him to accept evidence of abuse on the part of Mrs. Schiavo's husband. Whether or not Michael was a bastard is something we'll never know, but perhaps the allegations against him could have been investigated.

Of course conservatives were upset with Greer's ruling against Terri's family, but most importantly they were upset with how he came to his conclusions. The so-called "ultraconservatives" were pissed by the way the case was handled and believed it warranted federal judicial review. That's not judicial activism; that's due process.

Update: I just published an editorial over at the main site that goes into more detail.