Saturday, July 02, 2005

1210 On activist judges

Jane Galt recalls:

"Most people seem to think of the constitution as a guarantee of everything they believe sacred and good--whatever that may be. I think of it rather as a process for finding what is sacred and good; the operating manual for a classically liberal society. The rights it guarantees are mostly the rights that allow people to meet and debate ideas. We have freedom of speech, assembly, and religion so that we can meet and debate about the truth, including the truth about God. We have the right to bear arms, freedom from unreasonable searches, and the various criminal justice rights to prevent the government from curtailing those rights through the backdoor of intimidation. We have a mechanism for electing a federal government to be our proxies for the enacting of the truths we discover into law.

This is a model, of course, and it's imperfect; the founding fathers had many things in mind (and I'm neither a historian nor a legal scholar). But as a model, I think it works pretty well. And I think there's an important idea here: the constitution doesn't tell us what those truths are.

It doesn't tell us that the right to sexual privacy is fundamental to human liberty, nor that we may not hear prayers in our classrooms or see nativity scenes on the town square, nor any of the other multitude of "rights" we've discovered since the Warren court. If we discover such things, it gives us a perfectly good mechanism for enacting those truths into law: the legislature."

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