Conservatives Demand Activist Judges
The Colorado Supreme Court yesterday tossed out a court injunction barring enforcement of Colorado’s strong ethics in government law, Colorado Confidential reports.
The ethics law, known as Amendment 41 or the gift ban, was approved in a statewide ballot initiative in 2006. The state Supreme Court refused to block implementation of the law, saying judges needed a case of real harm, not nightmare scenarios. Opponents predict the children of state employees will lose their college scholarships and other tragedies.
The editors of the conservative Rocky Mountain News condemned the decision as a "punt." They denounced the judges for refusing to overturn Amendment 41, which they describe eloquently as "an open assault on liberty,"
This is the familiar phenomenon in which those usually sober and high-minded advocates of the strict construction of the law, respect for the intentions of the Founding Fathers, and the deification of Clarence Thomas, suddenly demand judicial activism on behalf of an embattled an unpopular minority group.
In this case the Rocky editors boldly defend the inalienable human rights of the political professional class of lawyers and lobbyists (most of them decent folk, by the way) who are truly threatened by a popular majority that basically wants to take away their livelihood.
Well, minority rights are essential–but so is the majority’s right to afflict the too-comfortable. In this case, judicial restraint seems appropriate. The court said it awaits a case of real harm. Until then the law stands as a warning that a majority believes the Colorado political process has been corrupted and needs correction.