It's hard to imagine a tougher place to pitch the doctrine of judicial activism than a Conservative Policy Summit sponsored by Heritage Action for America, but that's exactly what Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., did on Tuesday.
When a deafening silence greeted his opening question about how many support judicial activism, Paul admitted, "This is really gonna be a tough sell," and launched bravely into his contrarian pitch, the National Journal reported.
Paul, speaking to an audience which has always preferred judicial restraint over judges making new law, asked, "If you're for judicial restraint, I guess, then what happens when a legislature does bad things?" the Christian Post reported.
"What happens when a legislature says, 'Well, we're going to pass Jim Crow laws.' Should we have an activist court that comes in and overturns that?
"We simply don't want judges writing laws. I don't want judges writing laws either; but do I want judges to protect my freedom? Do I want judges to take an activist role in defense of liberty?"
Paul, a libertarian, said he was concerned about the "tyranny of state government" and added, "My point is not to convert you from judicial restraint to judicial activism, but to think about it because I think it's not as simple as we make it sound," the Washington Times reported.
Paul supports the "presumption of liberty" and said, "I liken it to sort of saying, well, maybe we should be presumed innocent until found guilty. Maybe we should presume to be free until we are restricted," the Christian Post reported.
Paul, looking to make a run for the White House in 2016, noted that he also has an eye toward the courts taking action against Obamacare, for example, and complained that the U.S. has been at war with the Islamic State (ISIS) for five months without congressional approval.
"Unfortunately, I think now that things are so partisan that if it is a Democrat president usurping authority, all Democrats will support them, but if it is a Republican president usurping and taking on too much executive power, all Republicans will support them.
"What our founding fathers intended was that Congress would object to having its power taken by the executive branch," the Times reported.
When only one person clapped at the end of his speech when he asked if he had convinced anyone, Paul jokingly said, "Yes! I've got one convert," the National Journal noted.
Paul spokesman Randy Darling explained to the Journal, "When he goes to these meetings, he likes to break new ground and talk about issues that haven't been discussed as publicly before. I think that he's trying to educate the crowd that there's a conservative case to be made for activism, if it's tied to spreading liberty.
"Most conservatives believe that Obamacare should have been struck down as unconstitutional. Some would consider that activist because you're striking down a law, and Rand Paul supports that kind of activism."
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