Sen. Rand Paul said Tuesday that conservatives should not be so fast to attack the courts, saying judges have played an important role in defending the rights of individuals fighting against government overreach.
“My point is not to convert you from judicial restraint to judicial activism, but to think about it because I think its not as simple as we make it sound,” the Kentucky Republican said during a speech at the Conservative Policy Summit, sponsored by Heritage for America. “We say, ‘We don’t want judges writing laws.’ Well, I don’t want judges writing laws either, but do I want judges to protect my freedom? Do I want judges to take an activist role in defense of liberty?”
Conservatives have long railed against judicial activism on issues such as gay marriage and abortion.
But Mr. Paul said that the court has been a vehicle for good, and that has been particularly true when it comes to racial equality, with key Supreme Court decisions such as Brown v. Board of Education, which struck down separate-but-equal schooling.
“If you have a Jim Crow majority in the South, does the court have a role in overturning something, where a person’s individual rights are at stake?” Mr. Paul said. “I think they do.”
Mr. Paul is eying a White House run and is scheduled to make six stops Wednesday in New Hampshire, home to the first-in-the-nation primary.
In his speech Tuesday, Mr. Paul said there has been a collapse of the separation of powers between the branches of government, accusing the Obama administration of overstepping its authority in granting the chance for amnesty from deportation to more than 4 million illegal immigrants, and for pursuing military action against Islamic militants in Iraq without the permission of Congress.
“Unfortunately, I think now that things are so partisan that if it is Democrat president usurping authority, all Democrats will support them, but if it is a Republican president usurping and taking on too much executive power, all Republicans will support them,” he said. “What our Founding Fathers intended was that Congress would object to having its power taken by the executive branch.”
Mr. Paul said that the nation has been at war with the Islamic State for five months without congressional approval.