Found this interesting definition of "activist judge" in the Christian Coalition of Georgia's 2006 questionnaire for judges, who unlike judges in Virginia, campaign to get elected:
"Judicial activism occurs when a judge interjects his or her own personal beliefs and policy views to achieve a desired outcome by failing to adhere closely and strictly to the text of a statute or constitutional provision."
The questionnaire asks candidates to declare that this would never be appropriate in any case.
It also goes on to ask judges (often in biased language and slanted wording) for their personal, moral or policy views on a variety of topics including:
Roe v. Wade
Denial of adoption based on sexual orientation
Domestic partner benefits
Same sex marriage
Prayer in schools
Flag burning and
These are just some of the policy, personal and moral issues covered in the 37 question form candidates for Georgia judgeships are asked to sign.
Forget judicial independence. Forget that the common law tradition we brought from England is a tradition of judge-made law that still controls much of tort and contract law.
Just ask yourself, if personal views are to be set aside, why do we need to know what a judge's views are?
Now it's clear. The Christian Coalition is simply looking for judges who will be activists on their side of the issues.
Kind of like when Jerry Falwell went shopping for a federal judge (supported by the ACLU) when he wanted the Virginia constitutional provision banning the incorporation of churches declared unconstitutional under the federal constitution.
Now that a federal judge has held Virginia's constitutional limitation unconstitutional, the voters will be asked in the fall to vote to repeal it as "obsolete".
Seems kind of ironic doesn't it? Asking the voters to approve the unappealed finding of a single "activist judge" who held a provision of Virginia law must yield to the higher power of rights guaranteed in the federal constitution.
Where in the US constitution does it say that a church has a right to be incorporated? Does a church have freedom of religion? Isn't it a judicial extension of the First Amendment to say that its protection of individual religious free exercise extends to the corporate form of organizational entities?