The false alarm concerning the possible resignation of Chief Justice John Roberts, Jr. sent shockwaves throughout the blogosphere and media outlets yesterday afternoon. Those of us who respect the Chief’s service to our country and fidelity to the Constitution were relieved when the rumors were false.
But this fire drill served as a reminder of the importance of the judiciary in our society—an importance bloated by the Supreme Court’s usurpation of the proper policymaking functions of the other branches of the national government and of the states. The Supreme Court hangs at a delicate balance, and that balance could be tipped drastically by the change of even one member—particularly if it were a member like Chief Justice Roberts, who properly understands that the role of a judge is a limited one. Such a shift in balance would undoubtedly lead to dramatic and long-lasting changes in the country’s fundamental law, removing contentious questions from the political branches and thereby eliminating political remedies for disagreement—if the Court “constitutionalizes” new rights, the only recourse is to constitutional amendment.
It is unfortunate that changes in one political officeholder could affect the country so dramatically, but that is where liberal judicial activism—and the elevation of empathy over the rule of law–has left us.