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The judicial branch of government is tasked with resolving legal controversies, ensuring lawbreakers are punished, and making determinations about whether a law or regulation was created or carried out legally under state constitutional laws and the U.S. Constitution. Judges must apply the law equally, avoid excessive fines and punishments, and safeguard all individual liberties by ensuring state and national governments do not deprive people of life, liberty, or property without due process.

The Issue

Many judges fulfill their duties with great skill and care, but others have gone far beyond their constitutionally approved duties by creating or mandating the creation of laws that are nowhere expressly provided under state constitutions or under the U.S. Constitution. This has resulted in some courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, handing down rulings that reject individual liberty and long-standing judicial precedent.

In National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius (2012), five of the nine Supreme Court justices ruled the federal government has the authority to punish Americans who do not purchase health insurance because Congress has the authority to levy taxes—even though the Obama administration itself has routinely denied the government “fine” is a tax.

In King v. Burwell (2015), six justices declared the Affordable Care Act allowed for individuals purchasing health insurance on a federal Obamacare exchange to receive federal tax subsidies, even though the plain language of the law specifically states such subsides are only available to those who purchase insurance on a state-established exchange.

In these cases, and in many more, court rulings created powers that had never before been recognized, making them – rather than the people, elected officials, or local or state governments – the lawmakers. Not only is this sort of judicial activism in opposition to the U.S. Constitution and many state laws, it also destroys or abridges individual liberty.

Our Stance

The judicial branch is an essential and vital part of a well-functioning democratic republic, but judges must not stray beyond the powers granted to them under the U.S. Constitution and state constitutions. Judicial interpretation should always be limited to the original intent and expressly written language provided in laws and constitutions.

State and federal executive branches must be certain only to appoint those justices with a strong, established commitment to these principles, and legislators responsible for confirming judicial appointees must be vigilant in fighting against all nominees who fail to prove themselves as worthy protectors of individual liberty and all constitutional provisions.