Justice Anthony Kennedy was in Sacramento last week for the dedication of a library in his honor at the state capitol and he gave the obligatory, and entirely superficial, nod to judicial restraint and the importance of democratic processes. CBS News reports:
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy said Wednesday that congressional lawmakers need to maintain the nation’s balance of power by being able to compromise, expressing concerns that the high court is increasingly the venue for deciding politically charged issues such as gay marriage, health care and immigration.
Kennedy, a former Sacramento law school professor, was asked by reporters whether he thought the court was deciding too many issues that can be decided by Congress.
“I think it’s a serious problem. A democracy should not be dependent for its major decisions on what nine unelected people from a narrow legal background have to say,” Kennedy said. “And I think it’s of tremendous importance for our political system to show the rest of the world — and we have to show ourselves first — that democracy works because we can reach agreement on a principle basis.”
And yet he gladly overturns laws passed by elected legislatures when he disagrees with them. In fact, he wrote the ruling in Citizens United that overturned a law by going far beyond what even the plaintiffs asked the court to do. And he was happy to vote to overturn the Affordable Care Act. Any time you hear a Supreme Court justice blather on about judicial restraint, you can be pretty sure they’re full of shit. All they really mean is “we should respect the decisions of the legislature in cases where we should respect the decisions of the legislature.” And Kennedy, in particular, is the second most likely justice to overturn a democratically passed law (only Thomas has done so more often).