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Author Topic: "The people should decide, not the courts!"  (Read 638 times)
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ComradeCarter
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« on: June 29, 2013, 12:34:01 am »
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I was going to post this in the thread on the '16 board about potential nominees talking about the DOMA ruling, but I thought it needed to be separate.

The courts deciding instead of the people being wrong is such a strange argument, especially on a federal scale. Are the justices not appointed by someone elected by the people? Does fickle popular opinion now overrule scholarly interpretations of existing law? When it comes to matters that only affect minorities, isn't it a bad idea to give the unaffected majority the most sway? I thought the purpose of the court was to interpret the law fairly - precisely why it's supposed to be apolitical. However, though, I recall reading that shifting popular opinion does affect the supreme court somewhat.

It strikes me as a cop out by social conservatives, and I never hear anyone actually analysing it. So am I retarded and this argument isn't baseless? Please spread information on my face.
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politicallefty
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« Reply #1 on: June 29, 2013, 04:51:57 am »
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It's the same argument as when people accuse the courts of judicial activism. It is completely based on viewing the legal system through a very political lens. In other words, it's what people say when they get an opinion they don't agree with. How many on the right would have accused the Supreme Court of judicial activism during the Lochner Era when sustantive due process was used by the right-wingers on the Court to strike down almost every economic regulation imaginable under the now-defunct notion of liberty of contract? I'll freely admit that both sides are guilty of this accusation.

Even though the courts may hand down many decisions where I agree, I would not support altering judicial power (though I would probably support a term limit on judges). I believe it is a system that works quite well. If everything is up to the people, what is the point of having a Constitution? To say that it should be up to the people instead of the courts is to believe that said Constitution hasn't already been approved by a strong supermajority of those representing the people. If you are to have a Constitution that is supreme, you must have an independent judiciary as well. Without that, you are left with a simple majority that rules over all matters. I'd much rather live in a country with an independent judiciary that protects rights and liberties of the people.
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Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning. - Winston Churchill
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Antonio V
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« Reply #2 on: June 29, 2013, 05:20:06 am »
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I think that in some hot-button issues, especially when there is already tangible progress ongoing through popular channels, the Judiciary should exercise some degree of self-restraint. It is not a Court's job to say what is right and what is wrong. Their job (a rather frustrating one), is to uphold a 250-year-old document whose none of its writers understood anything about modern political issues. Sure, the Court should step in when there is a blatant infringement to fundamental principles, but it should exercise its momentous power with caution.

BTW, if someone wonders, I would have struck down DOMA but upheld Prop 8. I guess I'm a moderate hero on SCOTUS issues. Tongue
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"In the end, the world we live in is in darkness."
"That's why... we seek the light."

Noir, episode 26
HokeyDood
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« Reply #3 on: June 29, 2013, 09:46:04 am »
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It's a ridiculous argument.  The court is saying with the DOMA ruling that the people don't get to decide on this one, the Constitution already has it covered.  The concept of "tyranny of the majority" is not something the hard-right wing ever seems to understand until they get paranoid about their guns or become "affected" by the War on Christmas; at which point they cease being the majority and become the oppressed few ruled over by a liberal, elite class. 

It probably has to do with the fact that we are brought up being told that the U.S. is a democracy.  No, friends, we are a representative constitutional republic.  There are basic rights and standards outlined from the get-go that are not subject to majority opinion.  Most people who would call the U.S. a majority get this concept that we are "free", but extend that concept to the point where they feel they have the right to prevent others from being free. 
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Antonio V
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« Reply #4 on: June 29, 2013, 10:38:11 am »
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Jesus HockeyDude, do you realize you sound like a libertarian?
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"In the end, the world we live in is in darkness."
"That's why... we seek the light."

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HokeyDood
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« Reply #5 on: June 29, 2013, 11:11:48 am »
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Jesus HockeyDude, do you realize you sound like a libertarian?

Well, the Constitution also has the whole tax and spend clause, Tony.  

And at the core I am for individual autonomy, but it's buffered by a strong lean towards social justice.  

Here are some of my Political Matrix answers:


5. We should increase funding for education.
AGREE

11. The government should subsidize health insurance for those who cannot easily afford it.
AGREE

13. It is unfair that wealthier people pay higher tax rates.
DISAGREE

14. The minimum wage should be raised.
AGREE

18. Current levels of government regulation on industry are excessive.
DISAGREE

22. Union workers should be protected against being fired during strikes.
AGREE

Yeah Tony... I'm SUCH a libertarian. 

« Last Edit: June 29, 2013, 11:16:11 am by HockeyDude »Logged

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« Reply #6 on: June 29, 2013, 12:09:20 pm »
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All things considered, I dare to say that court decisions were usually much wiser than decisions made by the people throughout history.
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Dr. Cynic
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« Reply #7 on: June 29, 2013, 12:57:54 pm »
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I never heard them bitching about it in 2000 when the courts handed George Bush the Presidency by ending the counting of ballots, even though Al Gore was technically the choice of the majority of the people.

The point I'm getting at is that it's only a problem when it doesn't conform to your own ideology. As long as the decisions fit what they want, they're fine with the Justice's authority.
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Antonio V
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« Reply #8 on: June 29, 2013, 01:03:01 pm »
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The point I'm getting at is that it's only a problem when it doesn't conform to your own ideology. As long as the decisions fit what they want, they're fine with the Justice's authority.

And so are some liberals, apparently.
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"In the end, the world we live in is in darkness."
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Noir, episode 26
ingemann
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« Reply #9 on: June 29, 2013, 01:12:27 pm »
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People pretend that the supreme court have any kind of moral or judicial authority, when all it is; is a bunch political appointed hacks, who was able to brown-nose and lie themselves through the Senate hearings.
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Dr. Cynic
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« Reply #10 on: June 29, 2013, 07:27:27 pm »
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The point I'm getting at is that it's only a problem when it doesn't conform to your own ideology. As long as the decisions fit what they want, they're fine with the Justice's authority.

And so are some liberals, apparently.

I don't deny that. That's how it is in this country.
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Vice President PiT
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« Reply #11 on: July 02, 2013, 04:22:53 am »
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      There are some things that the people have no business deciding, or else we wouldn't have a Constitution. This is all just more intellectual dishonesty out of the political class.
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ComradeCarter
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« Reply #12 on: July 05, 2013, 07:38:12 pm »
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People pretend that the supreme court have any kind of moral or judicial authority, when all it is; is a bunch political appointed hacks, who was able to brown-nose and lie themselves through the Senate hearings.

That does not mean that they don't have authority, that just means you don't like them or how they got there. As for moral authority, I don't hear anyone saying that. Judicial authority, though? Of course they have that. They're experts in the law who make very real decisions that affect everyone in one way or another. That's judicial authority whether or not you believe it is illegitimate.
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