Jan. 28, 2010 Volume 31, No. 17
Judging judicial activism
A new U.S. Supreme Court ruling striking down corporate campaign spending laws shows a bold activist mindset, says Richard Reuben, an MU law professor and Supreme Court expert. He believes the ruling could be just the beginning of an aggressive activist agenda.
“The court here is clearly engaged in judicial activism,” Reuben says. “It’s conservative activism, but it’s activism in that the court has shown how willing it is to overturn well-established constitutional precedents that it simply disagrees with.” As a result, he says, it could be “open season” on precedents, particularly liberal precedents, in a wide array of areas, such as religious freedom, free speech, and criminal law.
“As in other areas of its conservative activism, the court is willing to turn a blind eye to the consequences of its decisions,” Reuben says. “In principle, it might make sense to say, ‘corporations are just like people, they have free speech rights too.’ However that ignores the fact that corporations have an enormous capacity to amass wealth and power, thanks to special benefits given to them by the state.”