Are Conservatives on Court Guilty of Judicial Activism?

Left thinks so, but right defends Scalia and Co.

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 29, 2012 12:16 PM CDT

(Newser) – Today's big debate on health care reform seems to be whether the Supreme Court's conservatives were acting more like legislators than justices. Voices on the left think so and are raising cries of judicial activism. Pundits on the right disagree. A roundup of samples:

  • EJ Dionne, Washington Post: Hey, he wonders, aren't liberal judges supposed to be the ones guilty of judicial activism? You wouldn't know it from the way Antonin Scalia and crew were acting—as if they were "they were members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee." He even trots out the term "judicial dictatorship." If the law is struck down, "a court that gave us Bush v. Gore will prove conclusively that it sees no limits on its power, no need to defer to those elected to make our laws. A Supreme Court that is supposed to give us justice will instead deliver ideology." Full column here.

  • Jonathan Chait, New York: He's on board with Dionne. The idea "that Republican jurisprudence would be defined by aggressive economic judicial activism" would have seemed far-fetched not too long ago. "But just as there are few atheists in foxholes, there aren’t a lot of justices of any persuasion willing to walk away from a chance to overturn a duly-passed law that they personally detest. Full post here.
  • Neil Snyder, American Prospect: He picks apart Dionne's column specifically. Judicial dictatorship? "Nothing could be further from the truth, and even suggesting that ObamaCare was the product of the democratic process is dishonest." The justices aren't trying to "nullify the legislative process" because there was no legislative process. The individual mandate is unconstitutional pure and simple, he writes, and that's why it should fall. Full post here.
  • William Teach, Right Wing News: He, too, takes on Dionne. Remember, he writes, one of the purposes of the court is "to be a check against the powers of the Legislative and Executive branches, to make sure they stay within the framework of the Constitution. Why do conservatives constantly have to teach liberals these things?" Full post here.

This artist rendering shows Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli speaking in front of the Supreme Court.
This artist rendering shows Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli speaking in front of the Supreme Court.   (AP Photo/Dana Verkouteren)
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