Federal judges are increasingly working outside of their enumerated powers, acting as superlegislators and overturning state laws set by vast majorities of lawmakers and citizens. What model legislation will limit judges and hold them accountable to interpret laws and not make laws from the bench?
State governments are ramping up efforts to rein-in judicial activism. States such as Kansas have put judicial selection back in the hands of governors and elected state representatives, removing liberal state bar lawyers from the selection process. New Hampshire has proposed the creation of a legislative committee to impeach judges and overturn judicial decisions. In Texas, the legislature led by Gov. Perry passed a groundbreaking “loser pays” tort reform bill that effectively punishes frivolous lawsuits by trial lawyers. Wisconsin has proposed game-changing legislation that would prevent activist judges from halting state laws with injunctions.
Citizens groups are also joining the cause to hold judges accountable, especially through judicial retention elections. In 2010, judicial watchdog group Iowa Family Leader launched a “no retention” ballot campaign (“Iowa for Freedom”) that flushed three Supreme Court justices out of office after they used judicial activism to legalize gay marriage in Iowa. In 2012, a Florida group called Restore Justice launched a similar effort to deny retention of three activist Supreme Court justices–a trend that put the left-leaning New York Times in a panic. The campaign featured a Merit Retention Scorecard Tour for the three months prior to the election to inform the Florida electorate about judicial activism. Clear the Bench Colorado is a similar group formed to hold judges accountable.
See also: “Judges Ousted in Iowa”