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Sotomayor hearings: Al Franken says high court's judicial activism on the rise

July 13, 2009 | 11:54 am


Sen. Al Franken, Minnesota’s new Democratic senator, made his public debut and did not mince words about his concerns about the Supreme Court’s direction in recent years. He noted that he was sworn in five days ago and is not just Minnesota’s most junior senator but also the nation’s.

Unlike his Republican colleagues, who use the phrase “judicial activism” to critique what they see as too-liberal interpretations of the law, Franken said he fears judicial activism on “two separate fronts.”

“I believe the position of Congress with respect to the courts and the executive is in jeopardy. … The framers made Congress the first branch of government for a reason: It answers directly to the people. I am wary of judicial activism and I believe in judicial restraint. The judicial branch is designed to show deep deference to the Congress. … Yet recently, it appears that appropriate deference may not have been shown in the past few years, and there is evidence that judicial activism is on the rise. …

“The Supreme Court is the last court in the land to seek a level playing field, the last place an employee can go if he or she is discriminated against, the last place a small-business owner can go … the last place an investor can go to recover from securities fraud. … It is the last place a citizen can go to protect his or her vote, the last place a woman can go to protect her reproductive health and rights.”

-- Robin Abcarian

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Photo: The Senate's most junior member, Al Franken,  at the hearing. Credit: Mark Wilson / Getty Images