Monday, March 07, 2005

On Imperial-izing

Professor Bainbridge notes the LA Times' use of the term "Judicial Imperialist." It reminds me of past history classes where the Imperial Congress and Imperial Presidency were discussed without any mention of an Imperial Judiciary--an exclusion that always seemed to ruin the Constitution’s tripartite symmetry.

The phrase, however, seems not to have been lost on people all along the political spectrum. Republicans frequently accuse Democrats of appointing courts that will "legislate" through their interpretations of the law. And Democrats seem fond of criticizing a particular imperial court that "appointed" President Bush to office. This seems all well and fine, and at least gives some attention (if not respect) to the much-ignored-by-civics’-texts Courts. But, there seems to be a tension here when those that accuse the courts of coronating Bush declare Bush himself to be something of an imperialist who ignores the will of the people, violates the rule of international law, and generally acts like a tyrant. Isn't the nature of an Imperial Anything that it--alone or above all others--controls things? How can we have an Imperial Court and and Imperial Presidency at the same time; wouldn't they cancel each other out (the very point of a multi-branched government)?

And what of this use of the term "imperial" in civic deliberation, anyway? Isn't it a little unseemly and perhaps even dangerous to speak in public about the government in a way that verbally abdicates the People's authority to an Imperial Whatever--if only within the sentence? Can this sort of easy and off-the-cuff declaration serve any positive function in democratic debate? After all, if there is a case of Imperial Anything, which must exist at the cost of Our freedoms and rights, and if we are aware of it enough to say it out loud, aren't we obliged to revolt again--"in the course of human events style? But, if in fact we are able to say it out loud in a critical manner without being beaten and jailed, are we actually under the control of this Imperial Something?


Post a Comment

<< Home