MCViewPoint

Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Judicial Review? No. Nullification | Abbeville Institute

Posted by M. C. on February 24, 2021

https://www.abbevilleinstitute.org/blog/judicial-review-no-nullification/

By Earl Starbuck

“Acts of congress, to be binding, must be made pursuant to the constitution; otherwise they are not laws, but a mere nullity.” -St. George Tucker

“There is no danger I apprehend so much as the consolidation of our government by the noiseless, and therefore unalarming instrumentality of the Supreme Court.” -Thomas Jefferson

As a pro-life Jeffersonian, I am constantly frustrated by the endless line of pro-life activists who talk about the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade.[1] There are multiple reasons this irks me. For one thing, the Supreme Court will never overturn Roe because its members are dedicated to the preservation of precedent. Add on top of that the absurd kangaroo courts that Senate confirmation hearings have become, with their character assassinations and incessant prattling about the vital importance of Roe, and it’s clear that the potential Justices are being reminded not to tread on that particular landmine if they wish to be confirmed. The brutal character assassination of Robert Bork is ample evidence of this, as are the farcical witch-hunts against Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh.

My other objections to this pro-life reliance on Federal Courts are constitutional and practical. To begin with, accepting the Incorporation Doctrine (the legal justification for Roe and its descendants) means accepting the idea that the 14th Amendment incorporates the Bill of Rights against the State governments, including the implied right to privacy and the subsequent right to obtain an abortion. The legal and historical problem with this is that the Bill of Rights was never intended by the Founding Fathers to be applied to the States.[2] There were two primary arguments against the Bill of Rights. The first of these (advanced by men like Roger Sherman, Hugh Williamson, and Theophilus Parsons) was that, since the States already had their declarations/bills of Rights, and since Congress had been given no authority to infringe upon them, a Federal Bill of Rights would be redundant and unnecessary, and might even undermine the sovereignty and authority of the States. 

The second reason for objecting to the Bill of Rights had to do with its length and scope. Enumerating all of the rights protected would be impossible, and therefore would result in an implied surrender of whichever rights they forgot to explicitly protect in the Bill of Rights. Moreover, why say that the government can’t do something (like restrict freedom of speech or the press) if the government hasn’t been granted that power to begin with? (James Wilson and Alexander Hamilton presented these arguments; Hamilton’s is easily found in Federalist Essay #84).

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About Earl Starbuck

A native of East Tennessee, Jake Starbuck is an independent historian and a descendant of soldiers on both sides of The Late Unpleasantness and of Governor John Sevier. His father, who was a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, taught him to love history and the South. Starbuck holds a BA in History and Political Science from Carson-Newman University and an MA in History from Liberty University. He has no connection to the coffee company. More from Earl Starbuck

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