Sunday, June 11, 2006

Combination of Powers

While I don't view the judiciary as the last bastion of partisan-free governance in this country - recent judicial appointees, including Alito and Roberts, don't exactly have a track record as moderates - it remains, unquestionably, the least politicized branch of our democracy. Furthermore, because we are a common law country, where judicial precedent matters, by upholding not only the Constitution and the laws of this country, but by respecting past binding judicial decisions as well, the judiciary acts a historically-anchored brake on social trends, slowly the rapid progress of fleeting social trends and preventing their entrenchment unless and until they demonstrate truly long-term popular support.

Regrettably, even the appearance of judicial neutrality soon find itself threatened in some parts of this country. In Alabama, four Republican candidates for the State Supreme Court who "claimed they could pick and choose which U.S. Supreme Court decisions they would follow" were defeated in the primary elections held last week.

That's the good news. The bad news is that such a platform was considered viable by Republican strategists. Is Alabama an aberration, or will this judicial campaign strategy be repeated across the country, as would-be judges play politics with voters, pandering to their basest instincts at the expense of the rule of law?


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