Monday, October 11, 2010

DT Archive: Sandra Day O'Connor on Constitution, Rights, Majoritarianism

("DT" is Desultory Tao, my profile blog on USAToday's site. This is a quote I use moderately often when someone talks about the Constitution and "majority rule".)

Most Americans think of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights as going hand in hand. But the more appropriate analogy is ball and chain. The Bill of Rights was a restraint imposed on the new federal government to keep it from running out of control. [...] [W]hile the Constitution is the cornerstone of our nation's commitment to principles of representative government and majority rule, the Bill of Rights is a decidedly antimajoritarian document. In the Bill of Rights, the Framers built a wall around certain fundamental individual freedoms, forever limiting the majority's ability to intrude upon them.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The United States ... cherishes its democracy and lauds the majoritarian "will of the people." But it also accepts -- indeed, enshrines -- the right of its unelected Supreme Court to use the Bill of Rights to declare illegal the actions of the democratically elected legislature or executive.

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor
The Majesty of the Law - Reflections of a Supreme Court Justice


No comments:

Post a Comment