Gavel Grab

Pelosi on Courts: Lawmakers’ Court-Stripping a Danger

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi is warning of the dangers of court-stripping legislation. Such measures “deny Americans the right to challenge the constitutionality of a statute,” Pelosi cautions in a Chicago Tribune op-ed, entitled “Respecting the Constitution and the role of the Supreme Court.”

Justice at Stake, on its website, calls court-stripping measures and actions  a threat to fair and impartial courts. Court-stripping involves “the removal of specific cases, or types of cases, from a court’s jurisdiction,” JAS states. “This prevents courts from playing their vital role in our system of checks and balances—protecting individual rights, and ensuring that other branches of government uphold the law and Constitution.”

Pelosi writes that House Republicans have spearheaded numerous efforts to prohibit federal courts from conducting legal reviews, including reviews of the constitutionality of a law, and passed in 2004 the Marriage Protection Act, which barred U.S. courts from reviewing the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act. She also cites the House twice passing the Pledge Protection Act, which would have outlawed the ability of courts to hear challenges to the Pledge of Allegiance.

Pelosi discussed her concerns about court-stripping in the context of debate over Supreme Court review of the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act and over President Obama’s recent warnings of the dangers of “judicial activism” by “unelected” judges (see Gavel Grab).


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