End Run Around The People

The Supreme Court has just agreed to hear appeals in two cases that deal literally with matters of life and death. These two cases will decide the legality of physician-assisted suicide. But also at stake is whether this country will be governed by the people or by an ideological elite. The first case arose from a 1991 ballot measure that asked Washington State voters to legalize assisted suicide. The voters rejected the measure. But a group called Compassion in Dying refused to accept the expressed will of the people and took the case to federal district court. In Compassion in Dying v. Washington State, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the voters of Washington State. Washington has now appealed to the Supreme Court. The second case involved a New York law against assisted suicide. Dr. Timothy Quill--who admits that he has assisted in at least one suicide--filed suit against the law in federal court. In Vacco v. Quill, the ban on assisted suicide in New York was struck down. accused the courts of "usurping" the powers of the states--and they're right. But unfortunately, end runs around Lawmakers in both Washington State and New York have democracy are nothing new. For example, 23 years ago, when abortion on demand became the law of the land, it was not because the people had clamored for abortion. It was because feminist lawyers for Jane Roe short-circuited democracy by taking the abortion issue to the courts. By finding for Roe, the Supreme Court in effect defied the democratic process and created a new right, imposing its views on the whole country. Today the gay lobby is following the same pattern. Most Americans oppose homosexual marriage. So instead of taking their case to the people, two lesbians are suing the state of Hawaii in an attempt to get the courts to legalize gay unions. This reliance on the courts to get around the will of the people is a hallmark of today's intellectual elites. According to Harvard law professor Mary Ann Glendon, the elites share a "disdain for ordinary politics . . . and a preference for extending the authority of the courts, the branch of government to which they have easiest access." As a result the traditional checks and balances between the courts and the legislatures have been skewed. Is there anything we can do to restore democracy? In his new book, Slouching Toward Gomorrah, Judge Robert Bork proposes a constitutional amendment that would allow a majority vote in both houses of Congress to override Supreme Court decisions. This would help ensure that issues like same-sex marriage are decided through the democratic process, not through judicial fiat. Through their arrogation of power, the courts are distorting the pattern of checks and balances in our Constitution, and may even force a constitutional crisis. Isn't it ironic that the courts, which are charged with upholding the rule of law, are contributing to its destruction. Please use this booklet to educate your family, your church classes, your Christian school students. Christians must understand that without the rule of law, self-government as we know it will one day cease to exist.  


Chuck Colson


  • Facebook Icon in Gold
  • Twitter Icon in Gold
  • LinkedIn Icon in Gold

Sign up for the Daily Commentary