Curb the CourtsCommentary by Pete du Pont
December 13, 1996
Host intro: Today, commentator Pete du Pont of the National Center for Policy Analysis goes back to 1788. That year, in arguing for passage of the U.S. Constitution, Alexander Hamilton claimed the Judiciary would be "the least dangerous branch of government."
Right. And Freddie Kruger would make a great babysitter.
The last forty years of lawmaking by an unelected judiciary have shown us that "least dangerous" can still be plenty dangerous. But as Charles Kessler wrote recently in my online magazine intellectual capital.com, Hamilton understood the judiciary's power was "of an encroaching nature." And the Constitution has checks and balances on the Judiciary branch just like the Executive and Legislative. Maybe we need to review them.
At the uninviting extreme, Supreme Court Justices can be impeached.
Less harsh, but still effective, Congress can limit the kinds of cases the Court's allowed to hear on appeal. If it can't hear the case, it can't do any harm.
Congress can initiate constitutional amendments to overturn court decisions, as the 11th, 14th, and 16th Amendments did.
Least controversial and most effective: the appointment of judges who strictly interpret, not write laws. Forty years of liberal control of Congress -- and occasionally the White House -- built up a supply of activist judges. If that changes with conservative control of Congress, the seeds for a conservative Judiciary might be sown.
Those are my ideas, and at the NCPA, we know ideas can change the world. I'm Pete du pont, and I'll see you tomorrow.
Host outro: Be sure and listen tomorrow: Pete du Pont's been surfing the net again.