The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Thursday, November 10, 2005  

A Tip: Wait for Democracy in Action Before You Rant

David Bookstaber of Berwyn, Pa., got a letter to the editor [Note: Second piece.] published in today’s Philadelphia Inquirer. Congratulations to him and all that, but his correspondence is laughable for being poorly informed or badly timed, or both.

Bookstaber, writing about the curriculum controversy in Dover, Pa., about which I briefly blogged yesterday, offers this:

So I guess liberals such as [t]he Inquirer Editorial Board just love civil strife (“Intelligent Design: Flunking science,” Nov. 7). Why else would you encourage a judge to rule against the curriculum established by Dover’s democratically elected school board?

Policy disputes that don’t clearly violate laws belong in the democratic forum, where they can be debated and changed by the citizenry. Activist judges following the lead of the Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade only weaken our society by seizing power to which they are not entitled, and by taking controversial matters out of the hands of the electorate, which is the only place where compromises can be made on socially polarizing issues.

This is by now a worn and obvious tactic: Appeal to activist courts to win the fights you can’t win democratically.

Gee, David, sorry about the election and all, and the constitutional issues the court was asked to address, that directly in line with the reason the judiciary was established, but I’m sure it felt good to get whatever that was off your chest.

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