Time for a Change

July 17, 2003

Pat Robertson calls for change on the Supreme Court.

"We the People" - the opening words of the U.S. Constitution. The framer's of the constitution left no doubt in the Preamble that the Constitution was intended to belong to the people. The people were supposed to be the vigilant guardians of their own liberties. That's the way our system was created.

But, over the years the Supreme Court has radically undermined this careful placement of power by making itself the ultimate arbiter and source of what the Constitution provides and what it does not.

In 1819, a frustrated Thomas Jefferson concluded that the Constitution, especially the Bill of Rights, has become a "mere thing of wax in the hands of the judiciary, which they may twist, and shape into any form they please."

For decades, the Supreme Court has contorted the Constitution to mean that the people may not decide for themselves through their duly elected officials matters of moral and social importance.

This troubling pattern is well documented. For more that half a century the Supreme Court has acted as a "super legislature"-no longer interpreting the Constitution, but rather writing and proclaiming its own law.

Consider what the Supreme Court has done since the early 1960's: prayer and the Bible removed from public schools and the Ten Commandments banned from schools and public places. Relying on what was called a penumbra to the 14th Amendment granting a right of privacy not found in the Constitution, the Court declared abortion a constitutional right while ignoring the constitutional rights of the more than 43-million unborn children who have been slaughtered. And now, utilizing the same right of privacy that enshrined abortion, the Supreme Court has proclaimed same-sex sodomy a "constitutional right."

A growing number of Americans see the Supreme Court for what it truly is. After all, no matter how much a legislature may debate, negotiate, compromise, and discuss a significant social issue, a mere five-member unelected majority of the Supreme Court is always free to impose what it thinks is really best for the American people.

This is not a free people at work, but rather a judicial oligarchy of which Jefferson warned.

As Jefferson wrote in 1820, "to consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions [is] a very dangerous doctrine indeed, and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy… The Constitution has erected no such single tribunal…"

The idea of a "living Constitution"--whose heart and breath ends up being nothing more than the ideological predilections of the Supreme Court's sitting members-is contrary to fundamental principles of the Rule of Law. As Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story wrote in 1833, the Constitution is "to have a fixed, uniform, permanent construction. It should be, so far at least as human infirmity will allow, not dependent upon the passions or parties of particular times, but the same yesterday, today and forever."

And consider the words of Abraham Lincoln at his First Inaugural Address in 1861: "At the same time, the candid citizen must confess that if the policy of the government, upon vital questions, affecting the whole people, is to be irrevocably fixed by decisions of the Supreme Court…the people will have ceased to be their own rulers having, to that extent, practically resigned their government into the hands of that eminent tribunal."

Americans are a patient and a law-abiding people. But for too long we have watched as the Justices on the nation's highest court have legislated from the bench-taken what was to be our nation's roadmap for the people - the U.S. Constitution-and turned it on its head. It is time for a change. And thousands of Americans agree. The time has come for several Justices to retire and I am fervently praying to that end.

Pat Robertson is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Christian Broadcasting Network, headquartered in Virginia Beach, VA.