Thursday, August 24, 2006

Charles - "Activist" Judges

Here is the problem I have with the term "Activist Judges": there are no such people. It could also be argued that every judge is an "activist judge" but there is no good argument for something in between. Why is this? First, let us look at some definitions from around the web:

From Leaa.org, the two types of judges are:
... a restrained judge who is a servant of the law, or an activist judge who is the master of the law.
Leaa.org goes on to contend that the judge's role is to interpret the law, not write it. Hold on to that thought.

From a Seattle News opinion:
They ignore the plain meaning of texts to invent new rights. Superimposing their moral views onto their legal reasoning, they brazenly advance the cause of the fringe liberal elites in the culture wars.
Ocnus.net says that the term "Activist Judge" is being used as a code-word for liberal judges. I would agree that is how the Bush administration intended for it to be used and the strategy has worked wonderfully. So well that many people don't realize that it is a meaningless word.

Ok, so I've said it twice now, there is no such thing as an activist judge. The overriding idea behind a so-called activist judge is that they in some way actively go out and alter the legal landscape in their rulings. If this is what it means to be "activist" then every judge is an activist judge each and every time he/she hands down a ruling. It does not matter whether or not the judge upheld or overturned a particular case. It does not even matter if all the judge did was pass it on to a different court for jurisdictional reasons. Every action a judge makes, in any court, sets "Legal Precedent." What this boils down to is that no matter what decision is made, a judge's actions will affect future decisions with equal weight. No judge can be more active than another.

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