~ 29 January 2007 ~

Judicial Activism for Toddlers

Saturday morning cartoons aren’t what they used to be. The 24/7 nature of television, along with the increased demand for folksy morning-news programming, has put most weekend cartoons out to pasture. Still, some vestiges of this ancient Saturday morning tradition remain — especially on cable.

Take, for instance, the Disney Channel cartoon “Higglytown Heroes.” It’s animated series where ordinary people are exposed as heroes for the ordinary things we do. The “we’re all winners” mentality is nothing new within popular culture, but a certain “hero” in a recent episode I watched with my son caused me to do a double-take.

The character, who followed the heroic exploits of a crane operator, was a member of the Higglytown judiciary. She introduced herself with a song:

I’m a judge and all day long,
I decide what’s right and wrong.
And when it’s hard to see what’s right,
We have laws to give us light.

Read that again, and if necessary, sing it aloud. Does something seem a little backward? I’ll grant the writers a little poetic license — after all, the words do have to rhyme — but the law shouldn’t just appear on a judges horizon whenever it’s difficult to determine right and wrong.

I don’t know whether or not this poor perception of the judiciary was intentional or just came from a generation raised on the decisions of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Whichever it is, is does show that popular notions of judicial philosophy are in dire need of an overhaul. Where is Mighty Mouse when you need him?

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