Education Reporter
NUMBER 140 THE NEWSPAPER OF EDUCATION RIGHTS SEPTEMBER 1997
 

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Ashcroft Warns Against Rule
by Activist Federal Judges

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