From Pine View Farm

Strictly Speaking 0

In Republicanland, “strict constructionism” means “rulings we like.” “Judicial activism” means “rulings we don’t like.”

Dick Polman, writing about the gay marriage ruling in Iowa, explains “strict constructionism” (emphasis added):

The judges’ reasoning can be easily summarized: They looked at the 1998 state law which bars gays from getting civil marriage licenses, they compared the language in that law to the equal-rights language in the state constitution, and they came to the obvious conclusion that the former did not square with the latter. And since the state constitution is the ultimate arbiter (“the cornerstone of governing in Iowa”), out went the law.

. . . The Iowa judges explain those workings with a minimum of frills: They start by citing the state constitution’s Bill of Rights (“Equal protection of the law is one of the guaranteed rights”), noting that those rights “are declared and undeniably accepted as the supreme law of this state, against which no contrary law can stand,” and they underscore the preeminence of the state document by quoting the exact words of the document. (From Article XII: “This constitution shall be the supreme law of the state, and any law inconsistent therewith, shall be void.”)

You know how conservative critics of the courts always say that judges should be “strict constructionists” who accept the constitutional language precisely as it is written? Well, that’s what the Iowa judges did.

Aside: My position on gay marriage is a resounding “so what.”


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