In 1988, at the swearing-in ceremony for Anthony M. Kennedy, now a senior Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, President Ronald Reagan said this:
The role assigned to judges in our system was to interpret the Constitution and lesser laws, not to make them. It was to protect the integrity of the Constitution, not to add to it or subtract from it — certainly not to rewrite it.
In his usual manner, Ronald Reagan said it well and succinctly. The role of the Supreme Court is to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States when deciding the outcome of cases. Period, that’s it. Unfortunately, the court has gradually abandoned its essential role under the Constitution to neutrally interpret laws and constitutional provisions without personal bias.
What’s getting in the way?
1| Politicizing the Court
No case ends up in the Supreme Court without making its way through the lower courts, giving both sides of the aisle plenty of time to form opinions and politicize issues. By the time cases are heard in the high court, especially those with more notoriety, tempers can be heated and politicos riled up. Even when cases are ruled according to the Constitution and judges remain impartial, politicians and pundits usually find a way to politicize issues.
2| Legislating From the Bench
Supreme Court judges are appointed by the executive branch and confirmed by the legislative branch. This allows all three branches of the government to be a check and balance on the others. However, when ideologically-driven justices impose their own views instead of attempting to determine the original public meaning of a statute or constitutional provision, it compromises the Framers’ vision of America being a government of laws and not of men.
So what is the proper role of the Supreme Court? Well, according to Reagan:
As the Framers knew, unless judges are bound by the text of the Constitution, we will, in fact, no longer have a government of laws, but of men and women who are judges. And if that happens, the words of the documents that we think govern us will be just masks for the personal and capricious rule of a small elite.
It’s really quite simple, the justice’s role is to follow the Constitution, adhering to its original intent. The Constitution is not a “living and breathing” document as the left would have you believe. The only way to make the Constitution “live and breath” is through a constitutional amendment, not through the high court. The Constitution is the solid rock on which justices must anchor their decisions, without imposing their own views and policy preferences.
1 The Heritage Foundation