July 29, 2004

Losing Our Say

Of the three branches of government, the judicial began with the least amount of power, or, more precisely, exercised the least amount of power out of custom and a respect for the words of the Constitution. The executive branch has also increased its power. Which branch has been the loser? The most democratic one.

The scariest grab of power has been the judicial's, which looms with increasing menace. This was recently brought home to me when a half-million Ohioans signed a petition to get a defense of marriage issue on the ballot this November. Ohio law is pretty straightforward: if you get more than 323,000 petititons from 44 of our 88 counties, it goes on the ballot. End of story.

Or not. The legal-wrangling is going on now, and there's a chance it won't end up on the ballot.

One thing lawyers will tell you is that ultimately the wording of a law or statue is somewhat academic. If not meaningless, it's becoming less meaningful all the time. When Clinton asked what the meaning of "is" is, he wasn't kidding. The point is that he who interprets the law can make the words mean whatever he wants them to mean. Scary.

Catherine Crier, a lawyer who wrote a book making the case against lawyers, quotes De Tocqueville who predicted that Americans will eventually lose their liberty to lawyers.

The unborn already have.

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