Judging by the reactions to the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy and the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh as his successor, it is obvious that we are heading for a heated national debate over the next several months. What seems to be lost in the debate is the fact that it was never intended to be this way. The reactions we have seen so far to the retirement and replacement of a single U.S. Supreme Court Justice is all the proof you need that the Supreme Court plays a far bigger role in our lives than was ever intended.
From the over-the-top comments so far, you would think that Kennedy was the most powerful person in the world. And, perhaps, sadly he was.
With the retirement of Kennedy, the Supreme Court's progressive and activist era looks to be drawing to an end, or at least pausing. But, just because "my team" is winning by getting another conservative on the Court, the fact remains that our federal court system has too much power over our lives and must be reined in. The late, great Justice Antonin Scalia said the court's self-appointed authority is a "threat to American democracy."
We were all taught that our federal government is made up of three co-equal branches. The system certainly provides for checks and balances, but it is clear the Founding Fathers understood that the legislative branch was the strongest, the executive branch was next, and the judiciary was the weakest. Not so today.
As the legislative and executive branches have watched from their front row seats, the judiciary has grabbed more and more authority over our lives. Today, a bill passed by the elected majority of both houses of Congress and signed by the elected president can be overturned by a single federal judge in Maine or Hawaii or anywhere in between. You may like that result if your "team" controls the courts, but is not healthy.
Worse, the progressive Supreme Court has routinely legislated from the bench. Again, quoting Scalia in his dissent in the Obergefell case, "This is a naked judicial claim to legislative - indeed super-legislative - power; a claim fundamentally at odds with our system of government." The discovery of new '"iberties" by the courts has been the most effective way to push the progressive agenda on our society.
Co-equal? No, the judiciary today is the supreme authority over our lives. Nine unelected individuals, appointed for life, hold more power to control our lives than 435 elected members of the U.S. House of Representatives, 100 elected members of the U.S. Senate and the elected president, combined.
Our current circumstance is not due to the courts alone, our elected representatives have willingly given up their constitutional authority for far too long. But we must remember that the authority of Congress comes from us, and we have the power and authority to hold Congress accountable. That is how our system is built.
Now, with the progressive and activist court era ending, a silver lining would be a court system that operates within its intended role. A wise man once said, "A republic if you can keep it." Can we?
Grande represented the 41st District in the N.D. Legislature from 1996 to 2014. She is a wife, mom, grandma, lover of life and Jesus. Opinions are solely her own.