The lesson of today’s events is simple. We cannot and should not rely on the courts to save us. Liberals were spoiled in the 50s and 60s by the Warren Court — much progress was made through Supreme Court rulings. And when I say spoiled, I mean spoiled. Liberals have fallen back on the position that no matter how stupidly our elected officials behave, the courts will invalidate the most pernicious laws they pass. This is why the stakes are so high for judicial appointments these days. Liberals bank on the federal bench, and conservatives desperately want to change the makeup of the courts so that liberals can’t rely on them.
Unfortunately, court mandated change is the worst kind of change there is. I’d prefer a court ruling remedy an injustice than see that injustice stand, but it is always better if we elect Congressmen who will pass the laws we want and an executive branch that will enforce them. When elected officials pass a law and judges strike it down, people feel like democracy has gone unserved.
Barack Obama has made this very point more than once, and his choice of Sonia Sotomayor reflects that philosophy. I don’t think he’s interested in creating a new Warren court — he’d prefer that liberals take the bull by the horns and work to effect change through the legislative process. Today’s ruling in California upholding Prop 8 maintaining the state’s ban on same sex marriage is another lesson. Relying on the courts in this case was foolish — Prop 8 needed to be killed last November when it was on the ballot. I’m certain another opportunity will arise, hopefully very soon, for California to legalize gay marriage. Liberals need to fight harder when that opportunity arises. We can’t count on the courts to save us.