AIKEN - If two Republican U.S. Senate candidates - one from Georgia, one from South Carolina - have their way, the nation's constitutional systems of checks and balances will change.
U.S. Reps. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., and Mac Collins, R-Ga., are co-sponsors of the Congressional Accountability for Judicial Activism Act, proposed legislation that would allow Congress to overturn a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court with a two-thirds vote by both chambers of the national lawmaking body.
That same super-majority is required to override a presidential veto, which ensures that this proposed congressional authority would be invoked only on major issues such as gay marriage and the ban on partial-birth abortions, said Mr. Collins, who is running for the seat of retiring U.S. Sen. Zell Miller, D-Ga. The act also would be limited to future Supreme Court cases that involve the constitutionality of a law passed by Congress.
"I don't think you're flying in the face of checks and balances," Mr. Collins said. "This is not an overriding of the Constitution. There are a whole lot of us conservatives who are tired of judges making legislation from the bench instead of ruling on the law."
Neither Mr. Collins nor Mr. DeMint said, however, that they think this bill, the creation of a Republican colleague from Kentucky, has a chance of passing. But it is a way of sending a message to judicial activists, Mr. Collins said.
"You hear it all the time back home - when is Congress going to do something about these judges? Well, this is a way to do something," Mr. Collins said.
The act doesn't stand much chance of becoming law, said Terry Sullivan, Mr. DeMint's campaign manager, but it does serve to put the issue in play, he said.
"The dialogue has to come up for a paradigm shift," Mr. Sullivan said.
But one of Mr. DeMint's chief opponents in the race to succeed retiring U.S. Sen. Ernest "Fritz" Hollings isn't sure this is a good idea.
"It would be a radical shift from our constitutional experience of more than 200 years," former attorney general Charlie Condon said. "The better solution, I believe, is to appoint judges who interpret the laws, not make them."
Reach Jim Nesbitt at (803) 648-1395 or email@example.com.