Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Lincoln: Should the Supreme Court Be the Last Word?

In his first inaugural address (1861), President Abraham Lincoln warned:

If the policy of the government, upon vital questions affecting the whole people, is to be irrevocably fixed by decisions of the Supreme Court...the people will have ceased to be their own rulers, having to that extent practically resigned the government into the hands of that eminent tribunal.

What's the point of this post? Simply that the same Supreme Court that declared the United States to be a Christian country and at various times approved many types of government funding for religious activities, also has decided that such funding is not appropriate. The Court changes its mind from time to time. If you look at all the 5 to 4 decisions, it's easy to imagine what a change of just one justice could do to the balance of the decisions. And if such a change could happen so easily, then it seems obvious to me that we have all come to believe the Court has more power than they should, more power than Lincoln thought safe, and more power than the founders had in mind (look at this post: Jefferson Worried About the Judiciary)

From the Wikipedia article on the U.S. Supreme Court:

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