L&L - Judging from these Judicial Engagement Successes, IJ is on the Right Track
With Big Government on the march and the U.S. Supreme Court set to decide the most important federalism case since the New Deal, the need for judicial engagement has never been more acute. And IJ’s Center for Judicial Engagement is right in the thick of it.
The driving force behind judicial engagement is the idea that judges are duty-bound to enforce constitutional limits on government power and should do so without putting their fingers on the scale in favor of government. By contrast, many claim the chief judicial virtue is not independence, but deference toward other branches of government.
That tension was on full display both before and after the Supreme Court arguments over the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Indeed, the president himself admonished the Court that it would be an “unprecedented” step to strike down the healthcare law notwithstanding serious questions about Congress’ authority to force people to buy health insurance and the absence of any real limiting principle on that breathtaking assertion of power.
The constitutional challenge to Obamacare has focused the public’s attention on the role of courts like never before, and the Center for Judicial Engagement has been working to frame that dialogue in the courts, the media, public policy circles and law schools across the country.
Last fall the Center kicked off a “Judicial Engagement” debate series in conjunction with the Federalist Society featuring high-profile events at law schools from coast to coast. Those debates acquainted more than a thousand law students with the concept of judicial engagement and directly challenged the call for blind deference to other branches. I also wrote a series of posts for the “Volokh Conspiracy” that outlined the theory behind judicial engagement and explained why judicial abdication is a much bigger threat than activism. (Available at www.volokh.com/author/clarkneily.)
Just three days before the Obamacare arguments in March, the Center sponsored a symposium on judicial engagement at George Mason University School of Law featuring prominent academics who represent a wide array of views, including Harvard Law School’s Mark Tushnet, University of Texas Law’s Sandford Levinson, Pepperdine School of Law’s Doug Kmiec and Northwestern Law’s Steve Presser. The symposium included panels addressing the role of judicial engagement in protecting individual rights and preserving federalism, as well as the important differences between activism, restraint and engagement. The George Mason Law Review will publish a special symposium issue on judicial engagement this month.
Watch the full event online at
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