NOTE: WITHOUT JUDICIAL ACTIVISM, AMERICA WOULD BE WITHOUT JUDICIAL REVIEW.
All this talk about Justice Souter's replacement on the Supreme Court has brought the conservative rhetoric machine to life.. sort of. As if Americans know what "activist judge" or "judicial activism" even mean, Republicans have been hitting the talk/news circuit to pre-emptively decry Obama's upcoming choice as an "activist" based on a single word he used to describe a qualified candidate.. empathy. Apparently empathy=activist judge. Even if that was true, why is no one talking about the massive, necessary changes that have occurred in our country thanks to judicial activism? Here's my TOP THREE JUDICIAL ACTIVIST SUPREME COURT DECISIONS:
1. Marbury V. Madison (1803): This radical decision ESTABLISHED THE ABILITY OF SUPREME COURT JUSTICES TO DECLARE LAWS UNCONSTITUTIONAL. Otherwise known as Judicial Review.
2. Brown V. Board of Education (1954): SEPERATE IS thankfully NOT EQUAL. This decision marks the beginning of the end of segregation.
3. Roe V. Wade (1973): A controversy-free decision about a practically invisible issue called abortion rights.
Honorable Mention: Engel V. Vitale (1962): Declared official school prayers (the Almighty God kind) unconstitutional. You know, the whole seperation of church and state thing.
In closing, activist judges can be liberal OR conservative (see Dred Scott V. Sandford, Lone Wolf V. Hitchcock, U.S. V. Lopez). The big issue with the upcoming nomination of Justice Souter's replacement is whether or not he/she will uphold Roe V. Wade, i.e. is he/she pro-choice. The details concerning abortion rights can make for a tough conversation, no doubt, but DOES UPHOLDING A SUPREME COURT DECISION FROM 1973 MAKE ONE AN "ACTIVIST"? I don't think so, but more importantly, should we be chastising the decisions that shaped America thanks to this activism?