Last week, in more than 700 locations, groups of Americans gathered to protest the arrogant and irresponsible actions of their federal government. They created a media storm, with both positive and negative coverage, and even sparked the Department of Homeland Security to issue a report calling Americans who disagreed with the government enough to protest peaceably "potential terrorists".
At each of the gatherings, the words and actions of our Founding Fathers were often cited by the speakers. The words were eloquent and moving.
But the most important thing to remember about those words is that our Founding Fathers followed them up with actions. They did much more than protest.
We can also do must more than protest. We can vote.
In just 4 weeks, Pennsylvania voters can go to the polls and select the men and women who will sit on the appellate courts of our state. There are 3 – the state Supreme Court, the state Superior Court, and the state Commonwealth Court.
The power of those who wear the robes of the judicial branch is vast. It was court decisions that gave us abortion, gay marriage, and God-free school zones. It is a court that will finally determine the legislative redistricting of Pennsylvania. It is a court that rules on the constitutionality of gun laws and tax laws and reform laws.
And while a representative, both state and federal, must stand for election every other year, a judge elected to one of Pennsylvania’s appellate courts has a term of 10 years. The length of term was designed to allow judges the freedom to make decisions based on the law, without political pressure.
Unfortunately, those intent on recreating America in a new image discovered years ago that what they could not achieve legislatively, they could accomplish through the fiat of a judge. They have worked tirelessly to fill the benches of the appellate courts with judges who did want to interpret the Constitution, but wanted to rewrite it. We are now witnessing the fruits of their labors.
But in 28 days, we can take the first steps in taking our country back – just by exercising our right to use the ballot box. To find out who the judicial candidates are, visit www.pavotesmart.com. They have a list of the candidates running for each of the three appellate courts, the Bar Association rating of each, and a questionnaire each candidate filled out. From there we can visit the web sites of the candidates we are most interested in, or call their campaign offices with our own questions.
In 28 days, we can make the rhetoric of the tea party a reality in the ballot box. That is when the politicians will begin to worry – and electing judges who believe in the values and constitutional limits that build this nation is a critical first step. If we don’t have judges who will uphold the Constitution, any legislative effort at reform is doomed to fail.
The Tea Party ball is over. The work of reform is before us, beginning with the 2009 primary election. In the 1770’s liberty was born because Boston protests led to Philadelphia political reality. Our Founding Fathers are counting on us to repeat that process today.