The Real “Activist” Judges

By Bill Maher

New Rule: Republicans have to stop saying “activist judge.” Those words don’t mean anything – they just trot them out any time there’s a decision they dislike.

Take this Judge Robart, who put a stay on Trump’s travel ban. He’s a George W. Bush nominee, an old-school Republican with traditional views on executive overreach and the Establishment Clause in the First Amendment. Yet so many Republicans rushed to label him an “activist judge.”

The most accomplished “activist judges” over the past decade or so are the conservatives on the Supreme Court who overturned the Voting Rights Act, a law renewed by the Senate 98 to 0 and signed by George W. Bush; who ditched a century of election laws to legislate Citizens United from the bench; who declared owning a gun an individual right, abandoning all precedent; who stopped vote counting in Florida to make George W. Bush the Decider. And these are just a few examples.

As Neil Gorsuch makes the rounds in Washington, we’re going to hear a lot about how he adheres to “judicial restraint” – know that it’s bullshit. Political scientists and legal scholars have a metric for scoring a judge’s ideology – it’s called a “judicial common space” score – and Neil Gorsuch lines up to the right of Scalia. If longstanding progressive legislation comes before him, he’ll judicial activist on it like a mofo.