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Monday, September 3, 2012

Why Mormons are Conservative Republicans: Part 8: Judicial Activism vs. Judicial Restraint

I’ll let Dictionary.com define my terms:

[A]n interpretation of the U.S. constitution holding that the spirit of the times and the needs of the nation can legitimately influence judicial decisions (particularly decisions of the Supreme Court) [syn: broad interpretation]
A view . . . that judges should be reluctant to declare legislative enactments unconstitutional unless the conflict between the enactment and the Constitution is obvious. The doctrine is akin to, but not identical with, narrow construction, and it is the opposite of judicial activism.
Mormons believe our federal Constitution to be an inspired document. It was necessary for this government to be set up so that the Gospel of Jesus Christ could be restored. The temple work for our Founding Fathers was accomplished in a pretty miraculous way.

For more on this belief and the fascinating history behind it, see Brian H. Stuy, “Wilford Woodruff’s Vision of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence,” Journal of Mormon History 26, no. 1 (Spring 2000): 64–90.  Retrieved July 10, 2012 from http://digitalcommons.usu.edu/mormonhistory/vol26/iss1/1/. Also see https://chl.libraryresearch.info/reft296.aspx?pmi=Kstvjm7Dki for the names of all those baptized.)

As a result, Mormons are very uncomfortable with altering the Constitution.

Mormons are not comfortable with allowing the “needs of the nation” or the “spirit of the times” to affect Constitutional interpretation. Mormons aren’t particularly comfortable with anyone fiddling with, what we consider to be inspired language.

Unfortunately, this often results in Mormons being unwilling to alter state constitutions. This is personally frustrating to me. State constitutions are generally detailed, working documents that need revision regularly. They shouldn’t have the same status as our federal Constitution.

Many liberal groups attempt to overturn democratic action, like California’s Proposition 8, via court action. This offends Mormon’s concept of majority rule.

Many liberal groups attempt to achieve their social goals through bypassing legislative action and seeking it directly through the courts. This also offends Mormon's concept of majority rule and basic democratic principles.

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