Law is Politics

The legal system makes a lot more sense when you realize that it’s all politics.

There are those who insist that the law is absolute; that there is only one interpretation of it; and that only crazy radical liberals engage in “judicial activism.”

But the bottom line is that the law is whatever judges say it is.

Every judge has their own opinion as to what the “original intent” of the law was. If everyone agreed on what the “original intent” was, we wouldn’t need judges.

Even the Founders disagreed over the wording. The scales-personal-injury-lowConstitution was written to be specifically vague in parts because that was the only way they could get it passed.

You know — politics.

Within a few years of its passage, there were cases before the Supreme Court to interpret the Constitution’s meaning. The very Founders who wrote the damn thing argued before the Court as to how it should be interpreted.

Whenever anyone says there is only one “original intent” they always amazingly also know exactly what it is and — even more amazingly — it always matches what they already believed. (Sort of like religious nuts who are convinced there is only one interpretation of the Bible and it’s always the same thing as their own.)

And the meanings of words change over time. “Cruel and unusual punishment” does not mean the same thing in the 21st Century as it did in the 18th. The 14th amendment gives rights to “people” but at the time it was written, it did not include women or gays (and barely included blacks). Meanings change. Society changes.

Conservative judges interpret the Constitution just as much as liberal judges do — the difference is that liberal judges tend to be more honest about it. Or maybe the conservatives ones are just deluded, like Scalia was, that he had some great “insight” into the Founders’ desires, like he was an avatar to the gods. It was the conservative justices who reinterpreted the 2nd amendment to turn it into a personal right after 200 years. It was the conservative judges who decided that corporations were “people” and money was “speech.” And a new Court could turn around and say “nope” and change it back, using the exact same words in the Constitution.


I know some people want the law to be like a science, where you can do an experiment or do some research and know the answer, but it isn’t. It’s politics. It’s written by politicians. It’s judged by people who are elected (and are therefore politicians) or who have been appointed by politicians. The judges don’t all agree, just like politicians don’t agree.

And most of them (if they aren’t deluded) will admit that the Constitution is not a religious document written by gods; it’s a political document written by a bunch of politicians.