Meese v. Brennan

The New Republic

An activist jurisprudence, one which anchors the Constitution only in the consciences of jurists, is a chameleon jurisprudence, changing color and form in each era.

The Constitution… is a mere thing of wax in the hands of the judiciary, which they may twist and shape into any form they please.

If the policy of the Government upon vital questions affecting the whole people is to be irrevocably fixed by decisions of the Supreme Court, the instant they are made… the people will have ceased to be their own rulers.

The Court… has improperly set itself up as… a super-legislature … reading into the Constitution words and implications which are not there, and which were never intended to be there… We want a Supreme Court which will do justice under the Constitution – not over it.

SOUNDS LIKE Ed Meese, doesn’t it? Well, the first quotation is the attorney general’s. But the second comes from Thomas Jefferson, the third from Abraham Lincoln, and the fourth from Franklin D. Roosevelt. When Meese assails government by judiciary, he is in good company.

Meese has denounced major Supreme Court rulings of the past 60 years and called for judges to look to "the original meaning of constitutional provisions" as "the only reliable guide for judgment." No attorney general in the past four decades has set out so deliberately to reduce the power of the judiciary or to screen the ideological credentials of new appointees.

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