In response to Gossenius's critique of the Republican Party:
Why I love the Grand Old Party. Part II.

Judicial Restraint: The Republican Party came to prominence railing against one of the most shameful Supreme Court decisions in American history: Dred Scott. Abraham Lincoln did not call the Taney court "activist" (according to one scholar, Arthur Schlesinger coined the term in 1947), but the Illinois Republican deemed the ruling unacceptably political and a vast overreach into policy making. When the Dred Scott decision seemed to extend the Constitutional right to own slaves into all federal territories, Lincoln charged that the Court usurped the democratic process. The Republican Party of today continues the tradition of advocating judicial restraint.

Of course, the courts are not apolitical or completely independent, and there are notable historical instances of Republican actions that seem to contradict "restraint" as a guiding principle. The Lochner era (roughly from the late-nineteenth century until the FDR appointees gained control of the Court) serves as an example of a Republican-dominated federal judiciary aggressively protecting business interests. A more recent example, the Republican majority on the Rehnquist Court ruled in favor of the plaintive in Bush v. Gore in 2000, which struck many as egregiously unrestrained. However, for the most part, the Republican Party prefers legislative solutions to major national questions rather than judicial interference in the democratic process, favoring local control via popular rule whenever possible. For example, consider issues such as abortion, same-sex marriage and public religiosity. On the occasions when the Republican Party seeks to nationalize those sorts of issues, they tend to offer Constitutional amendments requiring super majorities of the American electorate rather than legal actions custom-designed to appeal to a judicial aristocracy.

Judicial Restraint is an important component in the Republican view of individual freedom and the role of government.

Please allow me another pause. In subsequent installments, I intend to reconcile the GOP small-government rhetoric with its penchant for internal improvement projects and assistance to business interests. Next up: Republican foreign policy. But you are invited, once again, to comment on my musings thus far.