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Editorial: Beating Back the Advance of Judicial Activism

When the Founding Fathers drafted the Constitution, careful attention was given to prevent the encroachment of one particular government body over another. As a result, surgical precision was dedicated to sculpting an intricate, three-branch system of government that kept tabs on itself by design.

Over the years, however, that design has been corrupted.

Nearly every aspect of government has inflated itself to proportions never originally intended. The consequence, of course, is less room for the individual freedom.

Fortunately, there are still those in government who appreciate the intricate system of checks and balances between the various branches of government, understand the restrictions specifically placed upon each realm, and are willing to fight in order to preserve said relationship.

One particular Missouri state senator—Republican Jane Cunningham (District 7)—recently introduced Senate Joint Resolution No. 15 in the Missouri General Assembly, and its target—among other Big Government vices—is none other than judicial activism.

SJR 15 takes aim specifically at judicial activism with regards to taxation matters. As the resolution reads in plain terms:

“The general assembly shall not be required to enact legislation to comply with a court order that it raise taxes.”

As it stands, the legislature—all across America—is the only branch of government granted the power to raise taxes. As with a host of other matters, however, courts have sought to override legislative supremacy by legislating tax policy from the bench.

Whatever the issue at hand, some activist judges on the bench have decided that state legislatures—and hence the elected representatives of the people—are not the ultimate authority on tax issues. Dictating higher taxes from the court room may be the only way to push forward Big Government tax increases that particular legislatures vote down.

If Senator Cunningham's resolution passes, a constitutional amendment to ban such abuses by activist judges will be put before Missouri voters. And knowing how voters feel about judicial activism—especially if such activism means a hike in their taxes—the amendment will undoubtedly become law.

Hopefully it will become precedent as well.

In his letter to Spencer Rome in 1819—explicitly warning against the political usurpation of powers—Thomas Jefferson warned that if such encroachment was not confronted, “The Constitution, on this hypothesis, is a mere thing of wax in the hands of the judiciary, which they may twist and shape into any form they please.”

American voters owe it to themselves to push for legislation similar to Senator Cunningham's in all states—if not for a nationwide ban. Stopping judicial activism and tax legislation from the bench is one significant step Americans can take in beating back the advancement of Big Government.


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