Time and again, the battle cry of “judicial activism” has rallied the conservative troops. These words have been used to motivate the right-wing base to turn out for votes, and they have been used to demean an entire branch of government. President Bush and his staff have often raised concerns about “activist courts”.
Meanwhile, in some alternate universe… The new make up of the Supreme Court had led the Bush Administration to push for some judicial activism of its own. The Administration doesn’t like an earlier Supreme Court decision – or the decisions from two different appeals courts – on cases related to what they call “partial-birth abortion” (though that term has no medical definition…but that is another story for another time). In the past the Supreme Court said that women have a right to have an abortion to protect their own health. But now that the Administration has gotten some of its own nominees on the Supreme Court, it seems that the time is ripe for one more attempt to get their kind of judicial activism – that is, to overturn a precedent.
And the Supreme Court agrees. It has agreed to re-rule on this issue. The first step has been taken. Sometime this Fall, we will likely learn just how far they will go.
The merits of this case are critical – and will be debated here and in other venues in the upcoming months. But before we get started in that discussion, let’s just take a moment to remember that the very reason President Bush has worked so diligently to fill the courts with his picks is so he could have the kind of judicial activism he wants – even if it undermines years of legal standing.