In a Saturday talk before the National Italian American Foundation, Justice Scalia questioned the importance of judicial "independence" if judges insist on acting as "policy makers," according to this AP report.(LvHB).
"You talk about independence as though it is unquestionably and unqualifiably a good thing," Scalia said. "It may not be. It depends on what your courts are doing."
Scalia added, "The more your courts become policy-makers, the less sense it makes to have them entirely independent." . . .
Take the abortion issue," he said. "Whichever side wins, in the courts, the other side feels cheated. I mean, you know, there's something to be said for both sides."
"The court could have said, 'No, thank you.' The court have said, you know, 'There is nothing in the Constitution on the abortion issue for either side,'" Scalia said. "It could have said the same thing about suicide, it could have said the same thing about ... you know, all the social issues the courts are now taking." . . .
" . . . when you push the courts into that, and when they leap into it, they make themselves politically controversial. And that's what places their independence at risk."
Meanwhile, Ann Althouse wrote an op-ed for the WSJ suggesting that where you stand on judicial "activism" (or how you define it) is often a function of where you sit. It begins:
Everyone seems to oppose judicial activism these days. If you don't like the role the courts are currently exercising, you find a way to call it "activism" and argue that the change you want would be "restraint." But if the status quo pleases you, you insist that what the judges are doing is not "activism," rather, nothing more than what the law requires. Or you concede the existence of activism -- but contend that changing things will only unleash a new form of far more virulent activism.
There was a time -- not all that long ago -- when we openly praised the activist judge and scoffed at the stingy jurist who invoked notions of judicial restraint. That restraint was a smokescreen for some nasty hostility toward individual rights, we'd say. Now we all seem to love to wrap ourselves in the mantle of the new fashion. But that fashion comes at the price of candor.
Read the whole thing.