Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Sotomayor's abortion ties and the importance of judicial philosophy

A Washington Times editorial catalogues the evidence that Judge Sonia Sotomayor, President Obama's nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court, believes the Constitution contains a right to abortion. Dave Andrusko at NRLC also has thoughts here.

The overriding issue with a Supreme Court nominee is his or her judicial philosophy. What is dangerous is a justice with an activist or "living Constitution" philosophy, by which he or she may stray from the actual meaning of the law and the Constitution in order to bring about desirable (for the judge) public policies.

This is the approach that resulted in the disastrous Roe v. Wade decision, in which the Court, in effect, invented a "right" to abortion never before found in the Constitution, and which (together with companion case Doe v. Bolton) wiped away the democratically-decided abortion restrictions in every state and imposed a nationwide policy of abortion on demand at every stage of pregnancy.

A justice's role is to interpret and apply the law, not remake it, so a good nominee will be faithful to the original meaning of the Constitution, understood in its text and history. Deviating from this role undermines our system of government, because the judiciary thereby usurps legislative power from the legislative branch. The will of the people is discarded because a few judges disagree with the policy.

A judge's views on policy issues should be irrelevant to his or her work as a judge -- judges ought to merely interpret and apply the law, impartially.

Judicial activism is rightly unpopular with Americans. Pro-lifers, and anyone committed to the proper, Constitution-abiding role of the judiciary, should use this nomination to highlight the contrasting views of the proper role of the Court.