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JUDICIAL ACTIVISTS: Conservatives don’t much like judicial activists, and progressives don’t much li

October 6, 2008

Summary: In contrast to strict constructionists, who interpret the letter of the Constitution, regardless of whether 18th century applications to today’s world are valid, judicial activists attempt to understand the spirit of the Constitution in terms of our needs for its wisdom today. Issues such as reproductive rights, affirmative action, discrimination, and consumer protections did not exist nor were they even conceivable, at the time the Constitution was written. Conservatives don’t much like judicial activists, and progressives don’t much like strict constructionists. Under the heading “Strict Constructionist Philosophy” on the John McCain site, we’re told that when McCain was running for President in 1999, “he promised that, in appointing judges, he would not only insist on persons who were faithful to the Constitution, but persons who had a record that demonstrated that fidelity. . . . That is why he strongly supported John Roberts and Samuel Alito for the Supreme Court and that is why he would seek men and women like them as his judicial appointees.” In contrast, said McCain, in an address at Wake Forest University, Barack Obama wants judges who share his values and concerns, and no one “quite fits the bill except for an elite group of activist judges, lawyers and law professors who think they know wisdom when they see it—and they see it only in each other.” For more information on the forthcoming Unspinning the Spin: The Women’s Media Center Guide to Accurate, Bias-Free Language, click here.