by Ryan Cooper
Springfield News-Leader
– March 17, 2009
“From the Right” appears every Tuesday.

“Every school child in America should be required to read the Bible.”

At that point, I stopped clapping for Patrick Buchanan, who was speaking in Kansas City during his failed 2000 presidential bid. The government shouldn’t force people to read books, even the Bible.

There is some truth to the liberal insult that conservatives want to create a Christian theocracy. Social conservatives tend to overemphasize religion when talking about social issues like abortion and gay marriage.

People who support limited government are turned off by the Republican Party because of the religious overtones. They don’t want a government run by preachers.

Religious right preachers sound silly when they proclaim that natural disasters are a result of God’s wrath over abortion and gay marriage. A more sound explanation for opposition rests in the distinctly Western idea of federalism.

Prior to Roe v. Wade, New York, California, Colorado and Hawaii had legalized specific abortion procedures. The plaintiff, Norma McCorvey, sued to have an abortion in Texas, a state that did not allow the procedure.

Abortion is not an inalienable right guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution. The Tenth Amendment requires that this issue be solved by state governments.

The U.S. Supreme Court is supposed to interpret the law, not create it. By legalizing abortion across the country, the court overstepped its boundaries by taking on the role of the legislative branch.

This dangerous precedent of judicial fiat has spilled over into state supreme courts. The Massachusetts Supreme Court forced the Massachusetts legislature to recognize gay marriages in 2004.

Not to be outdone, the California Supreme Court invented the right for Californians in 2008, despite a previous statewide vote defining marriage only between one man and one woman. California voters overturned the court in November by approving a state constitutional amendment barring future gay marriages in the state.

That won’t be enough to stop the runaway California judiciary. The same court is reviewing case law to find any reason to once again overturn the will of the people.

The Founding Fathers did not create a system of government that gives judges the right to trump the will of the majority. A vote of the people should be worth more than the printed ballot paper.

The biggest worry isn’t the one percent of Americans who voted for Buchanan who want a Christian theocracy. It’s the vast array of leftwing politicians, activists and donors who want to create a judicial monarchy.

The purpose of law is to protect the rights of individuals against the excesses of the state. An oppressive judicial system punishes individuals by taking away their freedoms, starting with the right to vote.

Sensible people across the political spectrum can support a return to federalism by allowing citizens in each state the right to determine social issues. Some states will legalize marijuana and prostitution while others will ban abortion and gay marriage.

Those who don’t like the laws can move to a different state. That’s a much better system than one where the laws for the entire country are re-written after every judicial selection.

Ryan Cooper lives in Springfield. He can be reached at

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