Thursday, November 13, 2008

Clarence E. Manion on Activist Courts

Clarence E. Manion was a Professor of Constitutional Law and Dean of the Notre Dame College of Law. In Verne Paul Kaub's book, "Collectivism Challenges Christianity," (1946) he is quoted as saying:

"Look closely at these self-evident truths, these imperishable articles of American Faith upon which all our government is firmly based. First and foremost is the existence of God. Next comes the truth that all men are equal in the sight of God. Third is the fact of God's great gift of unalienable rights to every person on earth. Then follows the true and single purpose of all American Government, namely, to preserve and protect these God-made rights of God-made man."

See Page 17 of this Findlaw Case

He also said of activist courts:

"These unfortunate Court ventures into policymaking and legislation in disregard for what the State justices called proper judicial restraint cannot be corrected by the slow process of constitutional amendment... In the national interest, therefore, Congress should now exercise the authority given to it under article 3 of the Constitution and strip the Supreme Court of its appellate jurisdiction which it now exercises so prodigally to reverse the sound judgments of all the inferior courts in the country--State and Federal."

See Google Book excerpt for The Court Vs. Congress By Edward Keynes, Randall K. Miller


CrypticLife said...

Manion died almost thirty years ago, so I doubt he's still fulfilling the post of Dean at the law school.

Good links, but note that the "self-evident truths" -- referencing the Declaration of Independence -- are rhetoric. Logically none of the truths are actually self-evident. It's an expression of opinion.

Note that the DoI doesn't even say they're actually self-evident -- it says, "We hold these truths to be self-evident".

And of course, as stated many places, the DoI is not a legal document.

While I might like to see less strained interpretations of the Constitution at times, I'm not sure that stripping the SC of jurisdiction is a great idea. Without SC judicial review, we don't get Brown v. Board of Ed. We don't get Miranda rights, or Loving v. Virginia (interracial marriage).

History Matters said...


Thanks for pointing out the poor wording about Manion. I have changed it to reflect that he used to hold that position.

Please see this article about the DoI:

The Overlooked Legal Contribution of the Declaration of Independence

The author makes some good arguments for the legal importance of the Declaration.