He then asks what he knows he must: "Shouldn't the laws of God trump the laws of men?" He answers yes...but. It's the yes-but quality of the article that reminded me so much of Miller's, the 'yes' admitting that an injustice had been done, the 'but' countering that the interests of due process outweighed it, for "judicial activism is a real problem. If you can 'deconstruct' the constitution, then the rule of law becomes impossible and all that remains is the rule of men and their arbitrary opinions. That is how the 'right' to an abortion got created in the first place." He claims that "We," pro-lifers and Republicans, "wanted them to rule by judicial fiat, no matter what the law said...but that way lies a victory that, if we had achieved it, would have legitimized our deepest defeats."
In cautioning against this temptation, he trots out the well-known (and by now well-worn) passage from Robert Bolt's A Man For All Seasons in which More turns upon Roper's zeal to cut down the laws to get at the devil: "And when the last law was down and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat?...do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake." Which permits Professor Williams to stirringly conclude that "The rule of law is still better than the rule of men - even when, on occasion the men are right and the law is wrong. From the winds that will blow if we fail to remember that truth, may God protect us all."
It's enough to make one shiver. It also puzzles. How could the law be wrong? He's just spent an entire article defending its constitutionality. Anyway, it inspired two published protests in response, one by me and another by Fr. Robert Hart, a contributing editor. Fr. Hart's letter was really quite wonderful - making a careful case for the proposition that "Florida law was being set aside by Judge Greer," who, thinks Hart, should have been impeached and imprisoned, and that the federal refusals to re-examine the case from its inception were arrogant rebukes to the other two branches to stay out of their territory. Briefly, from Hart's letter:
The remedies sought never included, as Williams alleges, a simple fiat of judicial activism...We pro-lifers were on the side of the law against a judiciary that was breaking the law. The problem is not simply judicial activism, but judicial usurpation...When the Supreme Court of Florida struck down Terri's Law, it was active; when the federal courts chose to ignore the last-minute law passed by both houses of Congress and signed by the President, they were passive. But, whether active or passive, it is tyranny for the judiciary to treat the other two branches of government as animals that are less equal than judges."For my part, I had kinder words for what Williams saw as judicial activisim, and you can find it here, backdated. If anyone wants to comment, come back to the front page.
From Jeff Miller, Bobby Schindler's letter to Bishop Lynch. The link in comments is no longer valid.