This time it's true. This time, the judges looking to make their own law aren't trying to remake America in their own image - they've declared war on America and hope to see it ended as we know it.
I'm speaking, of course, about the recent Supreme Court case on medicinal marijuana (PDF). In Gonzales v. Raich, patients on prescribed medicinal marijuana were raided by the federal DEA. In a 6-3 decision, the Supremes ruled that the feds had the right to ban the marijuana use and seize the drugs. It's interesting to note how the justices voted. Justices Stevens, Kennedy, Souter, Ginsburg, Breyer, and Scalia voted in the majority to uphold the DEA's actions. Ultra-conservatives Rehnquist and Thomas and mostly conservative-except-for-womens'-issues O'Connor dissented, saying that the states could do whatever they wanted and that Congress had no right to pass a law banning marijuana.
Now, as I'm sure Ben can tell you, I'm no fan of the wacky tobaccy. So maybe that influences my personal leanings towards the federal ban. But the War on Drugs is largely a conservative beast, not a liberal one. (Started by Nixon, championed by Nancy Reagan) And yet the conservative justices want to end it. Maybe we have another chink in the GOP armor. More likely is that this case is really about the power of America, and not drugs at all.
The U.S. Congress passed a laws (laws) banning marijuana, with no exceptions for medical or emergency use. I don't know what the public perception is today, but in a 2003 survey, 59% of Americans favored the ban on marijuana, according to the legalization group, Drug Policy Alliance. We all know that statistics can be misleading, but it's pretty clear that if this group advertises these numbers, if anything they're fudging on their own side. And the majority opinion justices of the Supreme Court weren't just voting based on popular opinion. Their argument was that Congress has the right to control interstate commerce. Since the legalization of "medical" marijuana will inevitably find its way to the open market, interstate or not, it will affect the market price of marijuana (making it cheaper, thereby giving it a broader customer base). Thus, private medical use of marijuana can fall under the jurisdiction of Congress. (There's a lot more to the argument. read the decision yourself) Rehnquist, Thomas, and O'Connor dissented, basically saying, What's the harm in a few old ladies with terminal cancer smoking weed? C'mon!
Their argument lacks a lot of the dissection of the commerce clause and leans heavily on previous rulings by the same crowd. Their goal is to limit the power of Washington. Dress it up as small government or whatever you like. Their aim is to cripple the power of our elected officials by reinterpreting the constitution. They hate America - at least the America we have today. They hate living in a world where Californians get as much of a say in what the rules are as someone from North Dakota. (Actually, they don't - but that's another story) They hate having to compromise with people who are different. That's why they isolate themselves in suburbs with cul-de-sacs that undesirables won't accidentally drive through. That's why they watch Fox News with its editorialized content. That's why they tag themselves with "I Support the Troops" magnetic ribbons.** If they could form their own country (called Idlewyld Country Clubia or Jonesville Baptistia) and exclude the people who don't agree with them, they would. Barring that, if they could move to South Carolina and be free of meddlesome federal oversight, they would.
The problem for these people is that we all identify ourselves as Americans. All of us - straight and gay, Whites, Hispanics, Blacks, pot-smokers, draft-dodgers, and flag-burners. We're all American. And because we live in a (mostly) democracy, we all get a say. And we all deserve protection and equality under the law.
Speaking personally, I view myself as an American. I don't think of myself as a Georgian first and then an American. I don't think of myself as a Norcrossite (?) first, then a Georgian, then an American. So the idea of empowering the states over the federal government is distasteful to me. If I wanted to be purely selfish, I would support it and move to a state that served my personal needs, even as the union crumbled around me. But I like being able to cross from state to state, not worrying what laws are different in this state compared to the last. (Radar detector and fireworks laws are complicated enough, thank you) In fact, I believe that's a large part of why America has done so well in the 20th century - a large country, free of encumbrances and local tribal squabbles. So look carefully at these Activist Judges who want to suppress the law to remold America in their image. They're not trying to shrink government, they're trying to castrate it.
** I am by no means suggesting that everybody who does these things is an anti-social America hater. People have many reasons for doing things, and the one I put out is just one.