Thursday, June 30, 2005

Response to the Supremes

I read a little of Justice Scalia's dissenting opinion, and really liked this point:
Responding to Stevens claim that the court should "expoun[d] the meaning of constitutional provisions with one eye towards our Nation's history and the other fixed on its democratic aspirations..."
...why are those aspirations to be found in Justices' notions of what the Establishment Clause ought to mean, rather than in the democratically adopted dispositions of our current society?

He hits on the crux of the issue. There are two ways to judge constitutionality. The first is to base judgements on precedent, which as a principle has been around for longer than democracy itself. The second is to decide them democratically. The court used to base its decisions on precedent, and the nation decided constitutionality by ammending the constitution. Now the high court seems to want to do both.
Again from Scalia:
I suggest it is the instinct for self-preservation, and the recognition that the court, which 'has no influence over either the sword or the purse,' cannot go too far down the road of an enforced neutrality [between religion and nonreligion] that contradicts both historical fact and current practice without losing all that sustains it: the willingness of the people to accept its interpretation of the Constitution as definitive, in preference to the contrary interpretation of the democratically elected branches.
But actions speak louder than words:
Just days after the Supreme Court said local governments could seize people's homes for the public good, a California businessman has written a letter to the government of Weare, New Hampshire, urging it to seize the property at 34 Cilley Hill Road, so he can build a hotel there.
That address is currently the home of Supreme Court Justice David Souter — who was in the majority of last week's decision. Logan Darrow Clements, of Freestar Media, says his hotel would "serve the public interest" by boosting Weare's economic development and tax revenue. Plus, he says, the hotel — to be named "The Lost Liberty Hotel" — will feature an exhibit on the loss of freedom in America. The city board is slated to discuss the proposal at its next meeting.


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