University of Chicago law professor Geoffrey Stone is sick of stereotypes about conservative judges, who supposedly "apply the law," and liberal judges, who supposedly "make up the law." Writing in today's New York Times, Stone calls this simplistic view "highly misleading." The truth, he says, is that conservative judges "tend to exercise the power of judicial review to invalidate laws that disadvantage corporations, business interests, the wealthy and other powerful interests in society." Their aim is to "protect the powerful rather than the powerless." Liberal judges, by contrast, "have tended to exercise the power of judicial review to invalidate laws that disadvantage racial and religious minorities, political dissenters, people accused of crimes and others who are unlikely to have their interests fully and fairly considered by the majority." This approach, Stone avers, "fits much more naturally with the concerns and intentions of people like Madison who forged the American constitutional system."
In my column today, I note that progressives and conservatives are both capable of standing up for the rights of the little guy, though neither group does so consistently.