Judicial review

After King David had his loyal soldier Uriah killed in battle so he could take Uriah’s wife Bathsheba for his own, the prophet Nathan called out the king’s injustice. After King Ahab, believing he was above the law, mistreated a poor person, the prophet Elijah confronted Ahab because the Law of Moses applied to commoners and kings. Amos and other prophets continued this tradition of speaking truth to power.

The American democratic experiment codified several key principles in our Constitution, such as the checks and balances of three branches of government, with the judiciary providing what I would call an independent “referee” (like the OT prophets). The courts provide judicial review, determining whether a law is constitutional and whether a law is being property executed.

Marbury v. Madison (1803) established the tradition of judicial review. During my youth, Judge Frank M. Johnson (1918-1999) embodied the best principles of judicial review, providing the only practical check on the early administrations of Governor George Wallace (1919-1998). This week the US Eleventh Circuit upheld the principle that no one is above the law.

From “U.S. appeals court rules against Trump in documents fight, ends arbiter,” by Jacqueline Thomsen, Reuters, December 1, 2022

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