Thursday, October 13, 2005

Fourth Circuit's Chief Judge William Wilkins on the Role of the Courts

This week, Chief Judge William Wilkins authored an op-ed on the role of the courts. Here is a taste:

Judges must never forget that the judicial branch was not created to run society. The Constitution assigned this task to the executive and legislative branches of government elected by the people. The judicial branch, on the other hand, was created as a safeguard, a check, a fail-safe, to prevent society from running wild.

. . . .

Think of a carpenter who is handed a set of architectural drawings to be used in constructing a building. As the building is being erected, the carpenter must interpret the drawings. And, of course, how the carpenter interprets the drawings will certainly affect the quality of the construction. But, if the design calls for a two-story building, the carpenter may not make it three stories even if three would be much better. A carpenter is not free to work his will in fashioning the building to his own personal liking and design.


The same is true of judges -- we did not write the laws or the rules or regulations set forth by the other two branches of government and we should not attempt to rewrite them, for we must be obedient to their design. And, we did not write the Constitution that governs and protects us all, and we must be careful that our decisions follow the constitutional design, rather than attempting to rewrite it.

1 comment:

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