February 24, 1997

February 24, 1997 | Commentary on Political Thought

America's Judicial Dictatorship

In the past decade or so, Americans have begun to rebel against a host of government actions they view as unfair, ill-advised or downright dangerous. What they don't know is that they're reacting to an all-but-secret revolution against America's representative form of government.

Imposing race and sex quotas in hiring and school admissions, encouraging teenage girls to set up house at taxpayer expense, letting dangerous criminals out of jail (or refusing to put them away in the first place) are all policies that have no basis in law. Yet, no matter what we do -- including voting the policies down at the polls -- most of these policies continue.

Why? No one voted for race and sex quotas. Congress never passed a law allowing dangerous criminals to walk the streets. It never created such a long, involved hearing process for cutting off welfare benefits that practically no one, once signed up for welfare, could have their benefits terminated. No president ever begged Congress to use government authority to force renters and employers to give special consideration to homosexuals.

So who's doing all this stuff? How can they do it without "the consent of the governed," as our Declaration of Independence puts it? And how can they overturn our efforts to stop them?

"In no other democracy in the world do unelected judges decide as many vital political issues as they do in America today," says former U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese, who should know. After all, it was Meese who headed the commission that documented the human tragedy that has been perpetrated on this nation by pornographers, aided and abetted by judges who regard the First Amendment as a license to destroy innocence and abolish decency.

In his chapter "Reining in the Federal Judiciary" in the Heritage Foundation's new policy book, "Mandate For Leadership IV: Turning Ideas Into Actions," Meese says that in their zeal to transform America into their idea of a social utopia, liberal judges in America's federal courts have assumed legislative authority in blatant violation of the Constitution of the United States. Judges are making the laws instead of interpreting them.

"Federal courts in nearly every state are substituting their judgment for that of local officials and trying to manage everything from prisons and mental hospitals to grammar schools and athletic leagues," Meese says. "Judicial excesses over the past 30 years include imposing racial preferences and employment quotas in violation of the common-sense principle of equal opportunity; creating a --right' to public welfare assistance that literally has built the culture of dependency; weakening criminal procedures so that even rapists, killers and child molesters have been set free; discovering a --right' to abortion that even abortion advocates have admitted is dubious; and overturning state referenda directly supported by the people."

The social revolution federal judges are imposing on America is an assault on our constitutional system, and ultimately, our freedoms. And since most Americans don't understand that the real fight isn't over abortion or affirmative action or crime but over whether federal judges have the authority to make these decisions, the judges keep winning.

The federal judiciary has become the most undemocratic and the most powerful branch of the government. And President Clinton is appointing more "judge-legislators" than ever before. But Article III of the Constitution gives Congress the power to limit the jurisdiction of federal courts. Congress should exercise this power. But it won't do so without an outcry from the people.

John Leo of U.S. News & World Report recently wrote that the most galling aspect of the revolution in the courts "is that it remains invisible to most Americans."

Well, now you know. Let's do something about it.

Edwin J. Feulner, Ph.D. is president of The Heritage Foundation.

About the Author

Edwin J. Feulner, Ph.D. Founder, Chairman of the Asian Studies Center, and Chung Ju-yung Fellow
Founder's Office