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  • Justice Stevens, Voter ID Laws, and the Future of the Supreme Court

    With the long expected retirement announcement by Justice John Paul Stevens on Friday, President Obama gets a second opportunity to shape the Supreme Court to match his very activist view of the law and the role of judges. That role, according to the President, is not to interpret the Constitution and statutes based on the time-honored principle of blind justice, but to use “empathy” to make sure that “powerful interests” are not “allowed to drown out the voices of ordinary citizens.”

    Some might believe that it would not be worth the effort of conservatives to spend much time and resources on opposing a liberal, activist nominee because Obama will simply be replacing a liberal with another liberal. But they would be wrong.

    There is no doubt that Justice Stevens has taken the wrong view in a vast majority of cases for many years, pushing judicial supremacy over the other branches of government (particularly in the area of national security), imposing liberal social policy as new-found rights, and on too many occasions veering from the original meaning of the Constitution. But he has occasionally made the right decision – such as when he wrote the opinion in 2008 that upheld Indiana’s voter identification law as perfectly constitutional.

    As a former anti-corruption lawyer from Chicago, a city with an infamous reputation when it comes to elections, Stevens wrote for the majority “that flagrant examples of [voter] fraud…have been documented throughout this Nation’s history by respected historians and journalists…[that] demonstrate that not only is the risk of voter fraud real but that it could affect the outcome of a close election.” The Indiana legislature was thus fully justified in implementing a common-sense security measure like photo ID, something that the vast majority of voters believe is a sensible idea.

    But voter ID is anathema to liberals, particularly liberal lawyers and law school academicians. It is almost impossible to have a reasoned debate with them over this issue. The fact that voter ID has been found to be both constitutional and not a violation of federal voting laws like the Voting Rights Act in various court decisions annoys and irritates them to no end. There is no question that most of the liberals that Obama could nominate will probably take the opposite view of Stevens on an issue that is vital to the continued integrity of American elections. The Indiana case was a 6 to 3 opinion, but liberal activists would love to be able to falsely characterize those who support voter ID as a bunch of right-wing, anti-minority bigots. Moreover, getting the wrong liberal on the Court would bring voter ID one step closer to being eventually outlawed by activist judges – it will give liberals another opportunity to slowly chip away at a Stevens decision they abhor.

    This is just one of many issues that will come up before the Court again. It is vital that Senators probe to ensure that any nominee understands the importance of the rule of law and adherence to the Constitution. We need a justice, even if liberal, who does not bend the law to favor their own, particular ideology and the social policy views most currently in fashion in the “progressive” academy.

    Posted in Legal [slideshow_deploy]

    6 Responses to Justice Stevens, Voter ID Laws, and the Future of the Supreme Court

    1. Mary, New Orleans, L says:

      We have a number of illegals in Louisiana. Fake social security cards are easy to come by and with that illegals are able to obtain a driver's licenses and, because of Motor Voter law, register to vote!! Unless governmental entities are willing to verify someone's legal status to be in this country before bestowing upon them what should only be granted to citizens, we wll continue to have voter fraud.

    2. Dennis Social Circle says:

      Elections will soon be a thing of the past. The dems pelosui, reid and obama will just appoint who they want, or will make a life time appointment to the position. The American people have stuck their heads in the sand and let those in power run wild. The politicians have convinced all that their vote does not count, combine this with the liberal media that will back anything that looks like a socialist, and you can see where we will be and are now.

      Obama will appoint a very left wing liberal to the court, one that will finish tearing down the constitution and be a puppet on a srting to the liberals and the media.

    3. Tim AZ says:

      I'm all for making judicial verdicts strictly based on the constitution. Unfortunately we had a liberal years ago that was a law professor who engineered the practice of using precedence to bastardize the actual written laws of the land. It was and continues to be an insidious means of subverting laws and the Constitution by liberals. How can we ban the practice of precedence case law?

    4. Pingback: Justice Stevens’s Record on Law Enforcement Issues | The Foundry: Conservative Policy News.

    5. James Keith says:

      There are three branches of government with checks and balances, etc.

      But where is the Judicial Branch? According to the Constitution, the Supreme Court has the responsibility to review and advise both the Executive and the Legislative Branches when enacting a law and/or the equity of the law. All laws must meet the standards of the Constitution before becoming enacted. The Judicial Branch is an equal branch of the government and must not allow the legislature and president to make laws that do not meet within the Constitutional Standards.

      If the Supreme Court advises the other branches, the law is outside the purview of the Constitution, the states then can ratify the bill by a two thirds majority if they so choose.

      The Supreme Court has every right to step in when congress and the president become too strong. Our forefathers warned of the dangers when two branches control (paraphrase) “the country would be ruled by tyranny”. Hamilton, Madison, Jefferson, etc. explained the balances between the three branches as necessary for freedoms to exist. Montesquieu and Rousseau shared these same fears.

      While the Legislative and Executive Branches sought a larger role in governing the country, the Supreme Court remained behind ruling on state and citizen law. Is it not more sensible to review and advise while the bill is in the process of becoming enacted, than to wait twenty to thirty years before the Supreme Court has the opportunity to rule on the law?

      We absolutely must demand the Supreme Court activate their solemn duty to enforce the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.

      When Justice Stevens leaves is the prefect time to move on correcting the gross misjustice.

      Your Ally,

    6. Larry, Vermont says:

      "However the constitutional interpretation debate is framed—conservative versus liberal, interpretivist versus non-interpretivist—it presents a false choice between alternatives, neither of which is fully faithful to the Founders' constitutional vision of individual freedom and limited government

      On the one hand is a conservative jurisprudence that reads the rights-guaranteeing provisions of the text far too narrowly and refuses to recognize the existence of rights not found explicitly in the text of the Constitution.

      On the other hand is a liberal jurisprudence that reads the provisions of the Constitution that grant powers to the federal government so broadly as to give Congress virtually unlimited legislative powers and thus permit the federal government to regulate almost all aspects of Americans' daily lives.

      Both conservative and liberal constitutionalism, in short, ignore essential principles of the Constitution, principles that are stated clearly and explicitly in the document itself

      The conservatives' chief blind spot is the Ninth Amendment which was intended by the Founders not only to protect un-enumerated rights but also to ensure that rights provisions generally be interpreted as broadly as possible. Conservatives also tend to overlook, or to interpret too narrowly, the many provisions in the Constitution—particularly the Due Process clauses of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments—that explicitly protect property and liberty rights in all their aspects, including the so-called right to privacy and other rights of personal autonomy.

      Liberals, on the other hand, are blind to the Ninth Amendment's companion provision in the Bill of Rights, the Tenth Amendment, which affirms a fundamental feature of the Constitution: that it creates a national government of limited, enumerated powers.

      When it comes to the mainstream debate over constitutional interpretation, therefore, modern Americans are faced with a catch-22: If they wish to avoid the dangers of liberal judicial activism, they must choose a conservative theory of strict construction, but under that theory they lose protection for certain kinds of rights. If they wish to avoid the dangers of crabbed conservatism, they must opt for the left-liberals' loose construction, but under that theory they lose meaningful limits on federal powers (as well as losing some other kinds of rights). Neither choice is acceptable to those who value individual liberty in all its aspects—economic freedoms as well as personal freedoms—and who value limited government."

      – David Mayer, Author/Professor

      Capital University

      Columbus, OH

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