(EXCLUSIVE TO CHALCEDON)
Dr. Alan Keyes — author, diplomat, presidential candidate, radio and television host, and crusader for the pro-family cause in America — gave the following interview to Chalcedon after holding a press conference on judicial tyranny.
“Right now, judicial tyranny is the focus of evil in our domestic affairs,” Dr. Alan Keyes said. “We have leaders in America who will put a stop to it — if we choose them. If not, that failure on our part will be a judgment on our nation.”
Never known for shrinking from a confrontation, Keyes now trains his guns on an out-of-control court system. Suppression of the public exercise of religion; abortion on demand; tampering with the basic human institutions of marriage and the family; the killing of Terri Schiavo, and the growing euthanasia/assisted suicide movement — all have the same root cause, Keyes said. All have been made possible by judges legislating from the bench.
“If we don’t rally around the effort to restore the constitutional balance,” he said, “we are going to lose our system of constitutional self-government.”
The Source of the Law
Holder of a Ph.D. in government from Harvard University, Dr. Keyes blasted the view that “the rule of law” is defined by individual judges’ personal opinions.
“Our system of government is based on certain ideas of self-government and rights derived from God,” he said. “God grants us our rights, so we should respect God’s authority.
“No branch of government is sovereign in the United States. Before God, the people are sovereign: that is, they have a claim of right derived from our Creator God.
“All three branches — executive, legislative, and judiciary — are sworn to the Constitution. Each branch must act to restrain the others from violating the Constitution. If one branch tries to act unconstitutionally, the others have a duty to interfere.
“Sometimes there are disagreements among the three branches, and that’s where we have a problem. These disagreements cannot be decided by the courts because the courts are party to the disagreement. Ultimately, they must be decided by an appeal to the people through the electoral process.”
What Went Wrong?
Although he granted that judicial review of legislation, to ensure its constitutionality, is “a clear, common-sense claim,” Keyes rapped legislators for refusing to exercise their constitutional authority to curb judicial activism.
“The courts are running away with the country only because the people who are supposed to represent us don’t use their constitutional authority,” he said.
The Constitution gives Congress the power to restrict the jurisdiction of the courts and to impeach judges who overstep their bounds.
“If, for instance, the courts try to destroy marriage by ruling in favor of ‘gay marriage’ or polygamy,” Keyes said, “Congress could either remove definition-of-marriage cases from the courts’ jurisdiction or move against judges who insist on defying Congress and the will of the people.
“But the system won’t work by itself. All the constitutional tools are in place to make it work, but we must elect people who will use those tools.”
Dr. Keyes made a strong personal effort this spring to persuade Florida Governor Jeb Bush to save Terri Schiavo, the brain-damaged woman who was killed by starvation and thirst by order of a county probate judge. The governor had the authority to take Terri into protective custody and reconnect her feeding tube, Keyes said.
“The system didn’t work because the state’s chief executive didn’t use the authority he had under the Florida Constitution.”
The Judiciary and the Culture War
Many see America as locked in a culture war pitting followers of the Judeo-Christian tradition (“conservatives”) against secular humanists adhering to moral relativism (“liberals”), but Dr. Keyes declined to endorse that picture.
“Thanks to the media,” he said, “we get an exaggerated picture of the extent of the conflict. In reality, whenever the American people are consulted, we usually see a clear majority, a consensus, on most issues.
“The problem is that the courts thwart consensus. Some elites — the news and entertainment media, the academic world — are dominated by an anti-Christian worldview, and the courts have been very friendly to them. But the great majority of the people profess Christianity, and are good and decent. All the destruction is being wrought by a minority.”
But, he added, “You can’t accomplish anything in America if you don’t organize votes and win elections.
“Some voters get discouraged because they elect people who profess beliefs like theirs, but once in office, don’t vote accordingly.
“So what do you do? You vote them out, and make sure the majority opinion is reflected in the outcome of elections.”
Chalcedon’s founder, R.J. Rushdoony, wrote extensively about the judiciary. Since the 1962 Supreme Court decision banning prayer in schools, the courts have generated more than their share of controversy.
In Rushdoony’s view, most of the mischief ensues when judges cease focusing on a fixed law order — for Dr. Keyes, the Constitution; for Rushdoony, the Biblical law from which the Constitution ultimately derives — and instead involve themselves in the issues and passions of the day.
“If the judge and the court represent a political party or idea,” Rushdoony wrote in 1973, “or a class or a caste, instead of providing the transcendence a court requires, they simply magnify the original evil by compounding it.”1 And, “The court must transcend the passions of the day. It must represent a law-order which judges the entire social order, and this is possible only if the judges represent God, not the people or the state.”2
Given the passion with which federal judgeships are debated in the U.S. Senate today — with some senators threatening to shut down the government if they don’t get the judges they want — Rushdoony’s comments point to a God-centered stability in the judiciary, which contrasts starkly with our current prospects of attaining it.
The state of the federal courts today would not have surprised Rushdoony, who said: “The real issue has been the religious standards of the day … if relativism and pragmatism prevail, the courts and judges have reflected it.”3.
1 R. J. Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Law, Vol. I (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1973), 611.
Topics: Biblical Law, R. J. Rushdoony, Constitution, The