Op-Ed in the Waterbury Rep-Am: Public has reason to fear a burst of judicial activism

November 16, 2017

The impending resignation of Chief Justice Chase T. Rogers means that Gov. Dannel P. Malloy soon will make his sixth appointment to the eight-member Connecticut Supreme Court. It seems inevitable that Malloy will add another liberal activist, who shares the court’s determination to erase or modify laws that do not conform to its worldview.

The strongest evidence of that tendency was displayed in 2015, when the Supreme Court ruled by a single vote that “capital punishment has become incompatible with contemporary standards of decency in Connecticut.” Regardless of one’s opinion of the death penalty, that decision was a haughty dismissal of the clear will of the people’s representatives. The court handed down a cultural decree that neither the people nor the legislature can challenge.

Arrogance is a mild word for such action; a harsher but still appropriate term is tyranny.

I fear that with more activist justices, the Connecticut Supreme Court will continue to flout the plain text and intent of our laws.

My fears gained relevance when in September, the court agreed to hear a case against Remington Arms, the gun company that manufactured the rifle used in the horrific Newtown massacre.

Bridgeport Superior Court Judge Barbara N. Bellis had previously ruled in favor of the gun company, citing a 2005 federal law that codifies the simple logic that murder is committed by murderers, not manufacturers; hence gun companies cannot be held liable for crimes committed with their products.

This case is open and shut, and the law is clear, so why has the Supreme Court taken up the case? To my mind, it makes exactly as much sense as allowing a suit against Ford because a terrorist used one of its trucks to run down his victims.

This is another example of liberal judges doing the dirty work for liberal legislators. Hillary Clinton and U.S. Sen. Christopher S. Murphy, D-Conn., have endorsed a back-door gun ban that would repeal the 2005 federal law, effectively making guns unaffordable for all but the wealthy few.

But passing such legislation would be impossible, especially in the minority. Will the Connecticut Supreme Court do the heavy lifting for them? By hearing a case that doesn’t merit review, it opens the door to more destructive judicial activism.