Don’t confuse role of Supreme Court

My attention was brought to a certain letter to the editor published in the July 19 edition of the Altoona Mirror and written by Elizabeth Shade.

It contained a view of our court system that one does not normally encounter, and it deserves a response.

Shade was upset by the recent Supreme Court decision to uphold the Trump administration’s “Muslim ban.” While not commenting on the merits of the policy, a majority of the court held that the travel ban was constitutional.

Courts have long given the presidency broad authority over immigration policy. Perplexed, Shade describes the courts’ “job” as “to determine right from wrong.”

The job of the Supreme Court is to decide what is constitutional and what is not. It does not fall under the jurisdiction of federal judges to decide what is fundamentally moral and what is not.

They’re public servants, not divine arbitrators.

As for commenting on public policy, this is the idea of judicial activism that has dominated public discourse since the 1950s; the idea that courts should legislate. This idea is both undemocratic and inimical to the idea of three equal branches of government because it leads to judicial supremacy.

She further contends that “the Supreme Court was supposed to represent the people…” Never before have I heard the opinion that nine unelected judges, the least representative branch of our government, are meant to represent the American people. They’re meant to represent the law and historical precedent, not ever-changing public opinion.

If Shade disagrees with the policy decisions of the Trump administration, she ought to look at the branch of government responsible for passing laws: the legislature, not the court system.

Hunter DeRensis

Altoona

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