Why a Constitution?

In 2005, Nancy Pelosi characterized a Supreme Court decision with which she agreed as being akin to “if God had spoken.” But given the penumbra of gloom that has emanated from the Left since the administration’s disastrous legal defense of its signature health-care law last week, we might presume that others of her political persuasion do not share her faith. Over the course of the last two weeks, many progressives have careered quickly through agnosticism and all the way over to judicial atheism. Now, rather than perceiving the Court to be merely an occasionally unreliable partner in crime, the movement is hysterically warning of an “activist” hijacking of representative government by “unelected judges.” All of a sudden, the sky is falling, known swing-vote Anthony Kennedy is being routinely described as a “conservative,” and the likes of E. J. Dionne and James Fallows are warning of a “coup d’état.” It seems that “God” has become vengeful.

This is rather odd. Faced with the potential loss of Obamacare, the Left has taken on the complexion of the victim, painting a picture of a doctrinaire and politically “conservative” Supreme Court tyrannically riding roughshod over a cowed and popular legislature. But since last week’s oral arguments, the real speculation has been about how “conservative” Justice Roberts and “independent” Justice Kennedy will vote, while there has been no conjecture whatsoever about the likely opinions of the court’s four “liberals” — Kagan, Sotomayor, Breyer, and Ginsburg — all of whom are widely predicted to side with the administration. Clearly, if any group within the court deserves to be described as “doctrinaire,” it’s this quartet. No such depiction has come forth.

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