Liberal legal scholar Jonathan Turley has schooled Kamala Harris after the Democrat vice president called the Supreme Court an “activist court.”
Harris made the remarks on NBC’s Meet the Press, blasting the SCOTUS because she did not agree with a recent decision.
“I think this is an activist court,” Harris said.
“We had an established right for almost half a century, which is the right of women to make decisions about their own body as an extension of what we have decided to be, the privacy rights to which all people are entitled.
“And this court took that constitutional right away, and we are suffering as a nation because of it.”
Enter Jonathan Turley, who took Harris to the woodshed over her comments.
“The fact that the Court overturned a long-standing precedent does not mean that it is an ‘activist court’,” Turley wrote.
“As I have previously noted, justices take an oath to uphold the Constitution and to ‘faithfully and impartially’ interpret the law.
“It is bizarre to argue that they should vote for some interpretation of the Constitution that they believe is wrong and unfounded just to preserve precedent.
“If that view had prevailed in the past, Brown v. Board of Education would have upheld the racist precepts of ‘separate but equal’ in Plessy v. Ferguson.
“When it comes to fundamental rights, justices should faithfully interpret the Constitution.
“There may be a greater hold of precedent in statutory interpretations (since Congress can address erroneous or conflicting interpretations).
“However, in the interpretation of the Constitution, justices are fulfilling an oath to ‘support and defend the Constitution of the United States.’
“Stare decisis may protect the Court as an institution from public criticism, but that should not override the duty to correctly and faithfully interpret the Constitution.
“As I noted in my exchange with Professor Sepper, the liberal justices have shown the same willingness to overturn precedent when they have a majority or to create new doctrines with sweeping social and political implications.
“The left did not denounce the Warren Court when it was handing down such sweeping new rulings.
“It did not denounce Justice Breyer when he wrote routinely voted in dissent on death penalty cases despite decades of precedent supporting the right of states to impose capital punishment.
“There is little doubt that the liberals on the Court would overturn Heller and the Second Amendment cases if they had a majority. Indeed, while denouncing the ‘activist’ conservative justices for overturning cases, Democratic senators demanded that cases like Heller and Citizen’s United be overturned.
“During the confirmation hearing for Justice Kavanaugh, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) demanded that Kavanaugh promise to respect stare decisis on cases like Roe, but then called for overturning cases like Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.
“Democratic groups often decry the conservative majority as ‘partisan’ while demanding the packing of the court to guarantee an immediate liberal majority.
“Justice Sonia Sotomayor has assured liberals in public speeches that ‘mistakes’ in such high-profile opinions can be ‘corrected’ by the Court in later decisions.
“In other words, when a majority forms with an opposing jurisprudential view.
“Does that make her an activist justice according to Vice President Harris?
“Dean Erwin Chemerinsky celebrated that ‘Justice Sotomayor wrote a dissent, in which she said, ‘Trinity Lutheran v. Comer was wrong then, and it’s wrong now.’’
“While that is a paraphrasing of the justice, does that mean that she has discarded the hold of precedent for politics? Of course not.
“She is interpreting the Constitution consistently and faithfully according to her own jurisprudential viewpoint.
“In the recent Carson opinion, Sotomayor makes clear that ‘this Court should not have started down this path’ in Trinity Lutheran and clearly rejects its hold on the Court.
“Not surprisingly, Chemerinsky approves of that position.
“Yet, Chemerinsky denounced the conservative justices as ‘partisan hacks.’
“Hillary Clinton declared that she would only nominate justices who would overturn Citizen’s United.
“Would those justices then be ‘partisan hacks’?
“None of this means that Harris should not disagree with the Court or reject its reasoning.
“As Chief Justice Roberts said this weekend, that is fair game,” he wrote.
“Rather it is the attack on the integrity of the justices that is beyond the pale in my view.”
The fact that the Court overturned a long-standing precedent does not mean that it is an “activist court.” If that view prevailed in the past, Brown v. Board of Education would have upheld the racist precepts of “separate but equal” in Plessy v. Ferguson. https://t.co/u6Lgm0xEEf
— Jonathan Turley (@JonathanTurley) September 11, 2022