WASHINGTON, DC -- Sen. John Ashcroft (MO) opened his address to the Collegians
with a quote from Abigail Adams to her Congressman husband, John: "In the new
Code of Laws, which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make, I desire you
would remember . . . that all men would be tyrants, if they could." He talked
about the activist role the federal judges are taking and related it to Mrs.
Adamss admonition to her husband, then a participant in the drafting of the
Constitution of the United States. "Mrs. Adams had a very accurate understanding
of human nature and its tyrannical tendencies," Sen. Ashcroft said.
"Our founding fathers gathered in Philadelphia with the hope that they might
create a nation of laws, not of men," Ashcroft told the Collegians. "The document
they produced is the envy of mankind. It is the oldest national constitution in
the world. It has met the various crises of human affairs because the just powers
of the new government derived from the consent of the governed; because a system
of checks and balances made despotism unlikely."
Ashcroft asked the Collegians to consider how far the federal judiciary has
strayed. "In California," he said, "clearly constitutional initiatives were struck
down by a single federal judge. By striking down Proposition 187, which would
have eliminated certain governmental benefits for illegal immigrants, the federal
trial courts began their assault on the initiative process. Proposition 187 was
enacted by the people of California in 1994," the Senator said. "Immediately, the
District Court enjoined it and, to this day, has not issued a final decision on
the merits. For more than three and a half years, the peoples will has been
suspended by an elite who hold middle America in the deepest disdain."
Senator Ashcroft continued, "While Proposition 187 was still held up in the
federal courts, the people passed Proposition 209, which enacted into state law
the notion that the government should be color-blind and should not impose
preferences based on race. The federal judge contorted law and logic to find that
this initiative, guaranteeing non-discrimination and the equal treatment of all
individuals, regardless of race, violated the Equal Protection Clause." A single
federal judge was again able to thwart the vote of the people. "Fortunately, an
appellate panel has not only reversed this decision, but has criticized the
federal courts willingness to reach out and decide the constitutionality of the
initiative before the state courts interpreted it."
He went on to suggest that "perhaps someone needs to remind these judges that the
constituting doctrine of all free society is that rights belong to individuals,
not groups. Perhaps, someone needs to remind them of Justice Harlans dissent in
Plessy v. Ferguson, which said: The Constitution is color-blind and neither knows
nor tolerates classes among citizens. Tragically, the courts have turned
individual rights into group rights as the aggrieved rush to the judiciary in
search of entitlement."
-- by Julia Algya