Posted by: Lisa Pampuch | May 15, 2010

Who’s snide now?

“An activist court is a court that makes a decision you don’t like.” ~United States Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, May 14, 2010

gavel from the Flickr photostream of vitualis

Two years ago, after the California Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in this state (a ruling that was later overturned — unconstitutionally, in my opinion — by Prop 8), I wrote a column that included these lines:

As far as I can tell, the term “activist judges” applies only to those judges with whom the speaker or writer disagrees. When judges issue rulings with which the speaker or writer agrees, those judges displayed wise jurisprudence.

Whenever you hear the term “activist judges,” remember, it’s a meaningless term that is echoed endlessly in an attempt to weaken an important and coequal branch of our government.

Former Dispatch columnist Cynthia Walker responded almost immediately by taking “strenuous exception” to that column in general and to my definition of the term “activist judge” in particular:

For Lisa Pampuch to say that the term activist judge, immediately derived from judicial activism, only applies to judges with whom the speaker disagrees is not only inaccurate, it is snide.

I can only presume that Ms. Walker, who is no longer writing an opinion column, is at least penning a letter to Justice Kennedy telling him how stupid and snide he is.



  1. Of course, you and Kennedy are correct. “Judicial Activism” is just a perjorative code word for “I don’t like the court decision.” If one disagrees with some decision they ought to be able to explain why they disagree with it, rather than simply hiding behind the blanket “judicial activism”.


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