Scalia Repudiates Judicial Activism

If you’ve ever wondered how judges are able to manipulate the law in order to come to a predetermined decision, this is the book to read.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has co-written a book on legal interpretation with Bryan Garner, a liberal who is an expert on legal language. Although liberal, Garner is equally as concerned about the judicial interpretation of laws that seeks to look outside of the text, instead of looking to the text itself to determine the meaning (“textualism”). Beginning primarily in the 21st century, this phenomenon has led to judges putting their own biases and desired outcomes into their decisions.

However, it is not the role of the judiciary to effect policy; it is their role to interpret it. Too many judges have turned into a second wing of the legislature. Scalia writes, “Lawyers are trained to read statutes. They are not trained to be moral philosophers…why would anyone think that the judges are appropriate spokesmen for ‘the people?’” The Supreme Court is composed of nine unelected people who have lifetime tenure, unable to be voted out of office.

People may agree upon what a text means, but they may disagree about what is “right.” That is why judges should not attempt to make a decision that is right; those decisions belong to the elected legislature. Scalia looks to former Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Cardozo writing in 1933 for authority on how the Supreme Court has interpreted statutes, “We do not pause to consider whether a statute differently conceived and framed would yield results more consonant with fairness and reason. We take the statute as we find it.”

Read the rest of the review at The Selous Foundation for Public Policy Research

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