Brianna re "

You say that you favor view #1 which (I believe) is, "What the courts do, on the other hand, is hold us accountable for our own ideals. That's why so many people hate the courts. Courts favor the high-minded principles that people can put down on paper when they think in terms of liberty, equality, and personal sovereignty."

I have two questions:

I do not see how distinguishing between "majority opinion" and "principles/ideals" demonstrates the value of the latter. You seem to make the generalization that because the courts deal with principles they are superior to whatever the majority believes. Why?

Imagine if we lived in Bizarro-America where the consitution involved all and only evil principles but where the populace clamored for particularist exceptions to be made to promote morality.

I agree that the consistancy of principles makes them slightly superior to the inconsistancy of many popular demands.

But in order to adequately defend the courts you need to defend the particular principles which they uphold. For example, consider the principle that women ought not be compelled to remain pregnant:

1) The average human lifespan is better on the whole than death (i.e. if you offered to kill any particular person they would probably decline the offer because their life is sufficiently good to be worth living. This is true even of people who are the result of rape or incest.)

2. If compelled to remain pregnant most women would be fairly miserable for 9+ months and have recurring pain later especially in the case of rape and incest.

3. Preventing a human lifespan from occuring is a worse consequence that damaging one--even damaging it fairly severely.

4. Pregnancies in which the fetus is likely to live a full normal human lifespan ought to be compulsory because the resultant human lifespan is more valuable than the harm done to the mother even in cases of rape and incest.

This princple seems to me to be very defensible. The principle that women ought not be compelled to remain pregnant does not. Yet the court has consistently upheld the less defensible one. So when the populace clamors against the courts it need not be "prejudice" vs. "principle". It is much more often "principle" vs. "principle" and there is no reason to believe that the courts have any sort of advantage in these debates.

December 2003