Those of a conservative bent – mostly the republicans – have been gnashing their teeth for a long time now with regard to the activism that has become the hallmark of many judges, even some entire courts of appeal such as the federal Ninth Circuit in the wild and wooly far west that is overturned by the Supreme Court of the United States 75% of the time. One also remembers the shenanigans of the Florida Supreme Court in 2000, when it attempted to steal the Florida electoral-college votes from Bush and give them to Gore, and the Supremes had to read it the riot act (also with gnashing of teeth on their part for even being saddled with that mess). Those Florida beauties exhibited more criminality than many of the criminals to whom they apply the law.
Enter the recent decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court with regard to who may activate the law of eminent domain in the effort to take what belongs to one guy and give it to somebody else or some other entity, and the entitlements relative to where the “Ten Commandments” (and presumably other religious elements) may or may not be physically in place. As has been the case for some time now, these decisions were of the 5/4 and 4/5 variety, indicating that nine supposedly brilliant jurists can study the Constitution, with the result that nearly half never agree with the other slightly-more-than-half on what it means. This is scary and simply points to the proclivity that some judges, if not all (at least some of the time), come at their judging with personal biases regarding a document that seems fairly easy to understand – or at least fairly easy for those who have spent years/decades studying it. One longs for 7/2 decisions or even 6/3 ones, with 9/0 the jackpot, but these seem too few…or, it may be that the high-profile ones get all the attention.
In any case, these latest decisions work to the advantage of those who fear the obvious judge-activism (government by judicial fiat) that seems rampant and scream for change. Even conservative democrats – and there still are plenty of those around – are bound to feel the shivery draught of a wind that gradually breezes in a government by a handful of un-elected elitists, instead of government by the people, except that the eminent-domain ruling was more like a spontaneous tornado ripping the Constitution apart. So…if Chief Justice Rehnquist decides to retire soon, the liberals in the Senate will have a very hard time turning back the appointment to his seat of a strict constitutional constructionist like Associate Justice Antonin Scalia; therefore, this is good news for conservatives who are sick and tired of judges who say men may marry each other, for instance, and in this process of social/mental sickness never realize that they’re opening the door to a veritable Pandora’s Box of social dysfunction already reflecting the grossness of the society of “Olde European” countries such as Belgium and the Netherlands.
Nothing could be plainer than the Fifth Amendment: “…nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” The keyword is PUBLIC! In the New London, Conn., 5/4-decision, the SCOTUS opened the door for any covey of corrupt politicians or other officials to take private property in behalf of those private entrepreneurs who claim that the taking is in the best interests of the community, in this case allowing for construction that will eventuate in much higher property taxes – that being for the good of the “public.” A fifth-grader can see through this. This is the socialist approach that might be expected in an “Olde Europe” setting, but runs counter to everything for and upon which this nation was founded. The Court said nothing about the huge profits the “businessmen” helping the “public” will reap since the government has no plans to develop anything itself – socialism again…the wealth accruing to the tiny group that can buy its way to eminent domain. Disgusting!
As for the “Ten Commandments” issue, the Court actually decided nothing, which probably is what it intended, convening as it does under, in, and around displays in its own confines referring to God and the commandments. SCOTUS just split 5/4 to the effect that one group recognized historical precedent and embedded displays that have been in place for decades, both therefore being justified, while the other group got its 5/4 way in simply saying that the magic legal term INTENT carries the day, and just left it up to the locals to fight it out on that basis, which is what they’ve already been doing for years, making the lawyers happy, at least. Obviously, the simple way to leave the displays in place is simply to place a sign with them that indicates no religious significance is to be drawn from the presence of the display, no matter where it is. That’s about all the folks in Harrodsburg and Somerset (Kentucky) will do, if they do anything at all. It’s hard to see the difference between their displays and those in Austin, Texas (both simply a listing of the Ten Commandments on public property), but at least the ACLU can keep the pot boiling with reference to INTENT.
The God referred to by the founding fathers and firmly embedded in the founding documents of the nation was/is the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Jesus, John, and Paul. Until they have the power to turn the Constitution around on this matter, particularly considering the absolute clarity of the First Amendment, the naysayers should just let it go…at least for a while. There is absolutely no evangelistic/proselytizing intent in the substance of the commandments, even if the posters think there is. These tenants simply recognize God of the Holy Scriptures, firmly indemnified by the founders as the anchor/protector of everything, and explain how to live – not a bad combination. Those who can’t live with that need to explain how it has damaged them. Not even the ACLU can point to anything. People worship or don’t worship according to their individual mindsets, and that’s that, notwithstanding anything found in a public place.
So…conservatives need to take heart as SCOTUS shoots itself in the feet (as, admittedly, it did not do in 2000 and probably most often does not) and reasonable people realize the silliness of some justices, as well as the idiocies of activist judges all over the landscape. These citizens will clamor for a return to sanity, not least because the “eminent domain” decision represents that everyone who owns property can be at the mercy of unscrupulous elected officials, bureaucrats, and – yes – the judges. Strict constructionists will be the choice of those who see the nation slipping into something very ugly, and they will let their legislators know it.