Sit and wait for judicial rule

In a democracy, voting majorities determine public policy, not five aging lawyers.

There was a time in my life, not too long ago, in fact, when I actually believed the United States was some form of a democracy.

But I was greatly mistaken. No longer are citizens electing representatives to legislate on their behalf. Now, judges are the true legislators. Case in point is the recent Supreme Court decision finding the death penalty cruel and unusual punishment if administered to someone who was younger than 18 at the time of the crime.

There was no public debate on this issue; no one voted on it. Our representatives didn’t even get to set up press conferences and town hall meetings. Nope, it was just decided by five old people wearing robes.

But here’s the deal, I actually agree with the Supreme Court’s fundamental philosophy. I am against the death penalty. I don’t want the state killing people, as I feel that is a power that is most readily abused intimes of crisis.

I struggle with my position, as I also believe the death penalty does deter violent crime. But I feel our right to execute people ended when Jesus prevented the adulterer from being stoned in John 8:7, telling the crowd, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”

Yet the question remains, should the Supreme Court be the one making these decisions? I always thought that as a citizen, it is up to me to convince others of my point of view, and then have it enacted into law. That was my understanding of democracy. I’d like to know if there is anyone out there who seriously believes that society should surrender its self-direction to a select group of lawyers.

Justice Antonin Scalia, whose dissents are some of the most entertaining works you’ll find in the legal field, brings up an important point in his dissent: “The Court thus proclaims itself sole arbiter of our nation’s moral standards – and in the course of discharging that awesome responsibility purports to take guidance from the views of foreign Courts and legislatures. Because I do not believe that the meaning of our Eighth Amendment Ö should be determined by the subjective views of five members of this Court and like-minded foreigners, I dissent.”

Why on earth are foreigners deciding law in this country? The United States is made up of immigrants; I assume our ancestors emigrated for a reason. As I have faith in my ancestors, I don’t think we should listen to foreign opinion at all. Some might say we should at least listen to what the world has to say. Fine.

But can’t we agree U.S. citizens should be the directors of our nation, and not foreigners? And certainly not lawyers.

Is there any hope, then, that the judicial tyranny that is overtaking our democracy can be abated? Congress does have some power to regulate the judiciary.

Article Three of the Constitution describes the judiciary’s jurisdiction over legal questions, but makes that jurisdiction subject to “such exceptions, and under such regulations as the Congress shall make.” Of course, then it’s a question of whether our representatives want to regulate the activities of our judiciary.

There are many who have no problems with the judicial lawmakers, because judges’ decisions are falling on theirend of the political spectrum. But that is when it is most important to stand up for democracy.

Yes, I believe the death penalty is wrong, but we must let society decide, not lawyers. Let society decide – that shouldn’t be controversial, should it? Let’s hope our representatives agree.

Marty Andrade welcomes comments at [email protected]