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Judicial Review Exists for a Reason August 5, 2010

Posted by Dwight Furrow in Dwight Furrow's Posts, politics.
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Since Judge Walker announced his decision overturning Proposition 8, the right-wing has been livid. And their most common complaint is that, because Proposition 8 had been approved by 52% of California voters, the decision is somehow an affront to those voters and the very idea of democracy.

But this whole line of reasoning simply ignores the reason why we have an independent judiciary.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Marbury v. Madison in 1803, the Supreme Court has had the power to decide whether or not the actions of the legislative and executive branches of government are constitutional. Judicial review is fundamental to our democracy because it protects the rights of unpopular minorities. In our system of government, the majority cannot take away fundamental rights protected by the constitution from individuals in a minority group simply because the majority doesn’t like them.

School segregation, Jim Crow laws, and bans on interracial marriage were overturned because they violated the rights of minorities despite the fact that these laws were supported by overwhelming majorities.

The fact that a majority voted for a law is simply not relevant to the question of whether the law is constitutional or not. The courts exist to protect the rights of minorities; not just to rubber stamp decisions by the other branches of government.

It is not surprising that some of the tea partiers making this argument are ignorant of the constitution or the foundations of democracy. What is inexcusable is that commentators and politicians who should know better make the same argument.

Any of us could find ourselves despised by a majority because we are part of some group of people who become unpopular.

Do these opponents of judge Walker’s decision really want to live in a political system that has no judicial review and no protection for minorities?

book-section-book-cover2 Dwight Furrow is author of

Reviving the Left: The Need to Restore Liberal Values in America

For political commentary by Dwight Furrow visit: www.revivingliberalism.com



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