GOP Flip-Flops on Judicial Activism
Dana Milbank nails the latest Republican reversal of previous policy in order to oppose President Obama in The Washington Post.
There was a time not too long ago when Republicans decried “activist judges.” Now they’re lamenting that judges are not being activist enough.
“Unfortunately, the courts have been reluctant to exercise their constitutionally conferred power,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) proclaimed at a hearing Wednesday. He called on the courts “to check the president’s overreach,” and he complained that “the federal courts have read their own powers much more narrowly” than they should.
This newfound love of activist judges is the latest manifestation of what has been called Obama Derangement Syndrome: The president’s opponents are so determined to thwart him that they will reverse long-held views if they believe that doing so will weaken his stature.
Republicans have, for example, long deplored the filing of “frivolous lawsuits.” But at Wednesday’s hearings, they were contemplating legislation that would authorize either chamber of Congress to file lawsuits against President Obama — even though legal experts, including one of the Republican committee members’ own witnesses, have said the efforts would fail.
There are legitimate questions to be asked about the long-term shift of power from the legislature to the executive, but it’s suspicious that Republicans are alarmed about abuses of power by Obama that are relatively minor compared to those undertaken by George W. Bush. Republicans are irritated by Obama’s refusal to deport children of illegal immigrants and his delaying implementation of parts of Obamacare. Back when Democrats controlled the House and the Judiciary committee was looking into Bush’s military tribunals, Guantanamo Bay, torture and warrantless wiretapping, Republicans on the panel said Democrats were “criminalizing differences of political opinion.”
Cross-posted from The Sensible Center