Judicial activism or restraint? (Walter E. Williams, March 29, 2006, Creators Syndicate, Inc.)
Are federal, state and local justices appointed to office to impose their personal views on society or to interpret law? Is it a judge’s duty to uphold the U.S. Constitution, and state constitutions in the cases of state and local judges, or is it their duty to uphold foreign law and United Nations treaties? Should what a judge sees as “evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society” and the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights govern court decisions, or the U.S. Constitution?
It was the former – not the U.S. Constitution – that determined last year’s Roper v. Simmons decision, in which the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the execution of a convicted murderer because he was 17 years old at the time of his offense. […]
Alabama Supreme Court Justice Tom Parker has little patience with his colleagues who use their office to impose their values instead of applying the written law, but he’s in trouble for saying so. Judge Parker wrote an opinion article that was published in the Birmingham News on Jan. 1. It criticized the U.S. Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision that banned executions for murderers who were under 18 when they committed their crimes. […]
Joel Sogol, former chairman of the American Civil Liberties Union’s litigation committee, filed a complaint against Judge Parker with Alabama’s Judicial Inquiry Commission. The complaint charges Parker with violating Alabama’s judicial ethics standards when he publicly criticized his eight Supreme Court colleagues and the Roper v. Simmons U.S. Supreme Court decision. Sogol says that Judge Parker’s criticism breeds contempt for the law.
Sogol has it wrong. It’s the court’s failure to meet its constitutional duties that breeds contempt for the law.
At any rate, we can all agree about the contempt.