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For those Republicans or Conservatives who had trouble voting for Donald Trump in 2016 but did because they hoped his biggest contribution would be on the Supreme Court …
This last week has been for you.
A week ago, in a case involving two families from Maine, the United States Supreme Court ruled that public money could indeed be spent on religious education. As we all know, the First Amendment prohibits the government from endorsing any particular religion. However, in a 6-3 ruling, the justices decided that permitting public money to go to religious schools did not constitute any such endorsement.
On Thursday, the Supreme Court recognized the supremacy of the Second Amendment and ruled that the state of New York was too restrictive in prohibiting permits for regular citizens to carry guns outside their home. The Second Amendment says that “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.’’ To rule otherwise would be like ruling the First Amendment says you can exercise freedom of speech inside your house, but you need a permit to express yourself away from home. As Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in his ruling, “We know of no other constitutional right that an individual may exercise only after demonstrating to government officers some special need.”
Then came the big one, when the Supreme Court ruled on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Clinic in favor of the state of Mississippi’s right to enact pro-life legislation. The court overturned Roe v. Wade. It didn’t ban abortion; it simply realized the Constitution gave no right to abortion, and therefore such decisions should be decided by each state.
And Monday, the Court sided with a high school football coach from Washington who elected to kneel and pray after games – on his own, not requiring or asking anyone else to join him – saying that such prayer was protected by the First Amendment. “The Constitution and the best of our traditions counsel mutual respect and tolerance, not censorship and suppression, for religious and nonreligious views alike,” Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote for the majority.
For decades, the Supreme Court seemed to have moved away from interpreting the constitutionality of laws and begun instead to legislate from the bench, extending federal power by bypassing voters and elected officials to rule according to ever-changing public opinion rather than the rule of written codified law.
When the Founders wrote the Constitution and created the three branches of government, the idea was that the Supreme Court would rule on the basis of what the law said, not what they or anyone else might wish the law said.
It’s never been the role of the Supreme Court to legislate. Go to Supremecourt.gov and see what it says is the role of the Court: “… the Court is charged with ensuring the American people the promise of equal justice under law and, thereby, also functions as guardian and interpreter of the Constitution.” As a Wall Street Journal editorial rightly said, “The court does its most important work when it renders decisions that are unpopular but legally correct.”
The rise of judicial activism has seen this idea of the Court's role abandoned, and in doing so, it has undermined the Constitution, handed power to federal bureaucrats and done a great deal to poison American politics.
But this week, the Court returned to its intended and primary role of interpreting law strictly on the basis of the Constitution.
One commentator suggested these rulings signal a new era of states’ rights is upon us. Don’t like lockdowns in New York? Move to Florida. Don’t like the income tax in California? Move to Texas. New Jersey and Connecticut generally have the highest property taxes. Missouri is generally ranked as the state with the worst healthcare. Seattle moved to defund the police. It's a free country; if you don't like it, you can always move.
And it a big country. We’re not going to agree on everything. The political priorities and values of Massachusetts are never going to be the same as those in Mississippi. So why not let states do things differently, to see what works and what doesn’t?
Maybe the anger of the political left over guns and abortion isn’t about guns and abortions as much as it is about losing the Supreme Court as a means for achieving policy goals they couldn’t get through the legislative process.
Now, it looks like they are back to trying to win the argument either through debate or political intimidation. Democrats made clear they will use these rulings as major political themes as we head into November.
They say it like it’s a threat, but in reality, that’s the way these issues should have been handled all along – with political persuasion and at the ballot box, not by judicial fiat.
Maybe the Political Left can try actual democracy for a change. They might find out it works.
Ray Melick is Editor-in-Chief of 1819 News. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to Commentary@1819News.com.
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