crypto and public policy

Crossing the Line

Filed under: General March 1, 2004 @ 6:17 pm

Last week, Bush chastised some “activist judges” in Massachusetts for changing the “well-established” institution of marriage. Bush believes these Massachusetts judges crossed the line from judicial to legislative: instead of enforcing the law, they’re making up new laws.

That’s an interesting accusation and one you often hear from conservatives when judges make liberal decisions: they’re just “activist judges.” So let’s consider a few facts about the President.

Bush has come out in favor of five constitutional amendments. Seeing as how these five have no overlap, that’s quite a bit of constitutional reform for one politician. Furthermore, consider that the only constitutional amendment on the books that ever limited an individual’s rights was Prohibition (since repealed, of course). Consider also that two of the amendments Bush supports undeniably place limits on individual rights (flag burning and gay marriage) with one more arguably in the same category (abortion).

Next comes the Bush administration’s meddling with the EPA. The EPA publishes a report the administration doesn’t like? Just cut the budget, fire a few key people, and “pull the rug out from under” the people trying to protect our environment.

Then there’s the Bush administration’s removal of health information from CDC web sites. Science not producing results that fit your view of morality? Just censor it, alter it, etc… This type of action was recently criticized by 60 world-reknowned scientists.

Finally, there’s the Bush administration’s flagrant violation of Geneva Conventions and Human Rights with the Guantanamo prisons, the secret military trials, and the multi-year-long detentions without charges using judicial loopholes.

So, on one hand, we have Massachusetts judges choosing a more inclusive meaning of the US Constitution’s equal protection clause. On the other hand, we have a President, the person who represents the Executive Branch, who:

  • plays legislator by attempting to grow the Constitution by 20% in 4 years mostly by curtailing people’s rights
  • sabotages a federal agency’s ability to enforce agreed-upon policy
  • alters scientific facts that drive policy making
  • usurps the Judicial Branch’s role by launching an unprecedented number of military trials and secret hearings

Who’s really crossing the line here? Who’s really overreaching his role? The President’s role is to execute the laws of this country, to uphold and protect the Constitution, NOT to make laws and influence other branches of government. If the Massachusetts Supreme Court is “activist,” then surely our President is in contempt.


  1. Aaron Swartz:

    This crossing the line thing is nonsense — it’s the job of judges to overturn unconstitutional laws. The whole purpose of their enforcing the constitution is to stop the will of the majority!

  2. Ben Adida:

    Either I didn’t express myself correctly, or you didn’t understand me. I think the judges are doing the right thing, and yes, it is absolutely their job to stop the majority when the majority is violating a constitutional principle. I think Bush and his team are the ones crrosing the line, yet they’re accusing the judges of being “activist.” That was my point.

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