The Early Roberts Court Attacks Congress's Power to Protect Civil Rights
National Senior Citizens Law Center
September 30, 2008
North Carolina Central Law Review, Vol. 30, p. 231, 2008
While the decisions of the early Roberts Court are couched in legalistic, technical language, the impact of these cases is simple: the Court has threatened the power of Congress to protect civil rights. The conservative bloc has rejected legislative intent, in some cases explicitly choosing not to follow clear expressions of congressional will and in other cases totally ignoring the question of congressional intent. Laws that overrule decisions of the Rehnquist Court have been narrowly construed by the majority, and numerous precedents that uphold civil rights have been limited to their facts or rejected outright. The early Roberts Court has abdicated its role to ensure that administrative interpretations of statutes comport with congressional intent, deferring heavily to executive branch litigation positions that contradict statutory goals. The Court has belittled the expertise of judges and juries to decide complex issues of law and fact, and a majority has explicitly overruled cases that support the equitable power of the judiciary. The conservative Justices have signaled that they will continue the Rehnquist Court's refusal to permit Congress to hold states accountable for violating civil rights. Usurping the constitutional power of Congress, the early Roberts Court has pursued a political agenda of eradicating the protections of individual rights in civil rights statutes.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 36
Keywords: civil rights, congressional intent, Spending Clause, court access, sovereign immunity
Date posted: October 4, 2008