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Judicial wisdom in eye of beholder

Whenever the Supreme Court makes a ruling that doesn't dovetail nicely with conservative philosophy, we get this outpouring of indignation from the right. If the ruling favors a liberal bent, conservative letter writers proclaim that "activist judges" are intent on perverting the Constitution ("Justices join assault on U.S. Constitution," July 3). Often included in the diatribe is a lecture about the intentions of the Framers. But then when the Supreme Court finds in favor of conservatives, right-wingers nod and mumble about the obvious wisdom of the justices and this great system of justice in America.

The Framers were courageous, brave and adventurous, but in some notable cases they were far from visionary. After all, they adopted a Constitution that tolerated slavery and the disenfranchisement of women — even after many of the same men feigned their righteousness by writing in our Declaration of Independence that "all men are created equal … endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights."

Fortunately, the Founding Fathers got it right when they created three equal branches of government with a well-stated separation of powers. One of those branches was the judicial branch in which the Framers entrusted to the Supreme Court "the judicial Power of the United States…"

If conservatives truly want to uphold the Constitution as it was written, let them accept the rulings of the court (as the Framers intended) or challenge them in constitutionally acceptable ways. We live in a democratic republic. If we don't like the makeup of the Supreme Court, we must work diligently to ensure that our favored presidential candidate is elected and then trust that he or she make judicial appointments that we support. Everyone can't be a winner every time.

Today, everyone seems to think that he or she is a constitutional scholar. The justices of our Supreme Court have given their lives to studying and enforcing the law. If we as a people decide to interpret the rule of law individually, we are doomed to live in anarchy.

As Chief Justice John Roberts so eloquently and pointedly wrote in his majority opinion that upheld the health care reform law, "the Court does not express any opinion on the wisdom of the Affordable Care Act. Under the Constitution, that judgment is reserved to the people." Or, to put another way, a constitutional law isn't necessarily a good law. Work to repeal it.

Art Lapenotiere, Westminster

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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