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Judges are throwing their weight around, and not just in America. By Benjamin Bull.
BY BENJAMIN BULL
Forget vampires and
werewolves and Texans with chainsaws.
The scariest creatures abroad in
this season of fright no longer bother to mask their intentions or cloak their
They long ago traded white sheets
for black robes, and their scythes for gavels.
Of course, most judges bring
nothing more nerve-wracking than a healthy respect for the law to their
communities. But a growing number of American jurists are being possessed by an
arrogance that is frightening in its implications. Even at Halloween, they are
increasingly unwilling to recognize anything as hallowed — not the U.S.
Constitution, not families, not even the human soul.
Many shuddered this summer when
the U.S. Supreme Court, ruling in the case of Hamdan v. Rumsfield, defied explicit
constitutional and congressional directives to accommodate a remarkably
acrobatic interpretation of the Geneva Convention and embrace the currents fads
of international law.
international law is the haunt of a lot of overreaching judges:
E In Malaysia, the Federal Court is currently hearing an appeal from a woman
who converted from the Muslim religion to Christianity. Lower courts have
denied her right to make that transition, declaring that the woman cannot be
legally married to a Catholic husband, and that her identity card must continue
to designate her as “Islamic,” whether she holds to that religion or not.
E In Germany, the Supreme Court is subjecting parents
who teach their children at home to heavy fines and imprisonment — even if
their choice is based on religious concerns about what is being taught in
E In Spain, where some 90% of the population is Roman
Catholic, that Church could soon be prosecuted, based on its teachings against
abortion and homosexual behavior. Leading cardinals at the Vatican warn that, with countries like Spain, Belgium
and the Netherlands
“exporting” their socially liberal policies, Catholics in Europe
could soon be brought before international courts for refusing to embrace
politically correct dogmas.
— In California, a judge for
the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit told families who protested the
indoctrination of their primary school children with sexual materials that
parents had no right to obstruct a school from teaching their kids about sex.
In fact, that they had no authority over anything the school might choose to
teach children during school hours.
It’s not hard to connect the dots
on what these cases have in common — they all deny a fundamental, common-sense,
historically recognized morality. In each case, the religious liberties of the
individual are sublimated to the authority of an institution — a government, a
school, the emerging juggernaut of pro-homosexual activism.
But even more disturbing is the
sheer arrogance of courts that would purport to curtail the religious beliefs
of a woman’s soul, the authority of loving parents over their own children or
the truth about homosexual behavior.
When did judges stop interpreting
the law and start investing themselves with authority
not just to find the facts, but to anoint
the Truth — determining, by judicial fiat, when life begins, how much first
graders should know about sex, the authority of holy writ?
In the increasing rush of so many
American judges to embrace the sweep of international law, one wonders what
powers these jurists still believe are beyond them. If they hold absolute trump
over the Constitution and the Scriptures, they can:
presidents in matters of war, pastors in matters of theology and parents in
matters of moral instruction; and
themselves the ultimate arbiters not only of “legal” and “illegal,” or even of
“right” and “wrong,” but of the eternal verities.
Then the world will not be
Divine truths and essential
liberties cannot be erased by the thud of a gavel. Americans know that courts,
like governments, draw their “just powers from the consent of the governed,”
and when judges run amok, citizens tend to remember
the “separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God
The truth of
these laws was self-evident to the writer of the Declaration, and remain
so for most of us. That they remain elusive for so many jurists in other parts
of the world is reason enough for American judges to rein in their enthusiasm
for international law, as well as some of their own more self-indulgent
Authority doesn’t come from a seat
at the bench. It comes from a sure knowledge and enduring respect for those
laws of nature and of nature’s God. Denying and defying those laws may bring
applause from one side of the international legal community, but it won’t
secure truth or justice for anyone.
Benjamin Bull is chief counsel for the Alliance
and former executive director of the
European Center for Law and Justice.