What do the courts do, again?

I recently stumbled on this anti-gun article by way of Hecate’s Crossroad, talking about how feminists should be anti-gun, because guns are responsible for domestic violence, or some similar totemic drivel. Of course, as an anti, the author completely overlooks how guns can allow a woman to defend herself against a larger and stronger attacker. Hecate does a pretty good job of demolishing the author’s reasoning.

Whenever somebody tries to tell me what to do or how to live my life, I immediately look to their motivations. What do these people stand to gain if I comply with their direction? What do they stand to lose if I don’t?
In the article linked above, the recurring theme is “women are victims who must be protected.” The sources of this “wisdom” are uniformly women-advocacy and victim-advocacy groups. In other words, organizations who would not exist if not for women and victims incapable of acting on their own behalf.

I can’t really do a better job than she did, so I’ll just say go take a look for yourself.

I did, however, want to hit on another part of the article. It’s really just one sentence, but it shows a serious misconception of our court system that seems to have begun to pervade the public perception.

If the courts see little public sympathy for gun regulations, they are unlikely to take the unpopular stance of defending them.

What is wrong with that statement? Can anyone tell me? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

How about this – the courts’ job is to rule based on the law and the Constitution as they are written, and their perception of public sympathy should have no impact on their decisions.

This is why the founders made Supreme Court Justices appointees for life – to insulate them from public opinion. The Executive and Legislative branches are already subject to public opinion by way of the election process. Congress and the President are the ones who can – and should – be swayed by public sympathy for or against laws and regulations. The Supreme Court, on the other hand, is isolated from the fleeting whims of public opinion.

One of the most important, and least known jobs of the courts is to act as a shield against oppression of the minority by the majority. The Constitution is one of their most important tools for doing so. If all is operating as it should, public opinion can sway the courts only by way of the legislature, or by Constitutional amendment.

The legislature is, of course, fairly easy – but legislatures cannot simply override the Constitution, and a law that is unconstitutional is not valid. A Constitutional amendment is a deliberately difficult and drawn out process, made so in order to outlast the whims of the mob and prevent abusive or ill-conceived amendments. It’s not perfect – the 18th Amendment was a good example – but in general it works well, allowing flexibility when needed but encouraging stability at all other times.

If the courts stop adhering to the laws and the Constitution as they are written in favor of following the whims of the mob, then our system will have stopped working altogether, and chaos will surely follow.

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