12 February 2007

Why social conservatives want to control the courts

The Harper government's rigging of judicial advisory committees to ensure conservative appointments to the courts, referred to as "ideological contamination of the justice system" by John Ibbitson in Monday's Globe, is hardly surprising. Although Harper seems to drift in and out of the social conservative orbit, his heart remains loyal to their philosophy, so he has responded appropriately to their belief that judges are too liberal.

One might think that liberal, in the sense of open-minded, would be a good thing for a judge to be. But not to social conservatives. To them, open-mindedness is anathema. Tolerance is the enemy. They believe there is only one legitimate moral design -- theirs -- and any other is wicked, and to tolerate any other is sinful. A liberal judge is therefore an instrument of sin.

Protecting society from sin requires protection from open-mindedness, from tolerance, from liberalism. Social conservatives believe the law must answer to God, specifically to their narrow interpretation of God's wishes: for conservative Muslims this means the Koran, i.e. Sharia law, and for conservative Christians it means the Bible, preferably the Old Testament. They cannot, in good conscience, accept anything less.

This is the essence of Harper's "contamination of the justice system," a narrow, self-righteous concept of law that considers a liberal society a society of moral decay, the work of the devil. The fixing of the committees not only politicizes the judicial system, it theocratizes it.

I conclude as Ibbitson did in his column: "The Conservative government is putting at risk the independence of, and international respect for, the Canadian judiciary. It is an appalling misjudgement that must be reversed."

No comments:

Post a Comment