Judge Attacks SCOTUS and Constitutional Originalism

(RightWing.org) – Modern Supreme Court justices appointed by Republicans tend to be originalists, a judicial philosophy that considers the Framers’ intentions when interpreting the US Constitution. Court watchers say Chief Justice John Roberts leans toward that viewpoint, and justices Clarence Thomas, Amy Coney Barrett, Neil Gorsuch, Samuel Alito, and Brett Kavanaugh subscribe to that belief structure. A judge in Hawaii recently lashed out at SCOTUS and Constitutional originalism.

On May 14, Hawaii Supreme Court Justice Todd Eddins was interviewed on a bonus episode of Slate Plus’ “Amicus Live.” Hosts Mark Stern and Dahlia Lithwick talked with the liberal justice about this longstanding public criticism of SCOTUS, his disdain for originalism, and his embracing of Hawaii’s state constitution to counter recent decisions handed down by the nation’s highest court.

Eddins began by discussing his opinion that SCOTUS tends to “cherry-pick” historical precedence to support its originalist perspective on modern legal questions. He also accused the panel of calling on the lower courts to follow suit by playing “the role of amateur dilettante historian.”

Continuing, Eddins questioned whose history the courts are expected to embrace. According to him, there were “a few white men who decided things… centuries ago” at a time when people of color and women were “excluded” from “deliberation” and public participation.”

Eddins explained that the viewpoints of women and minorities were “non-existent” centuries ago. Following that line of reasoning, he said it was impossible to “root around in history” to find “18th and 19th-century experiences” and try to use them to decide “21st-century problems.”

Turning his attention to originalism, Eddins said it revived the value system of a “racist, misogynistic, homophobic society.” He warned that leaning on that legal theory unnecessarily “constrains the value judgments of contemporary judges.”

Stunningly, Eddins told the hosts that “state courts are not beholden to the US Supreme Court.” He claimed they are insulated from federal review when they decide legal questions based on their respective state constitutions. Time will tell if he’s right.

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