Supreme Court Activism Didn’t Start With Conservatives But Liberals

Last week, Vanity Fair published an excerpt from Presidential historian Douglas Brinkley’s book “SILENTSPRING REVOLUTION: John F. Kennedy, Rachel Carson, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, and the Great Environmental Awakening” in which he argues that while today’s conservative justices on the Supreme Court might be considered “ardent activists,” none of them compared to the late William O. Douglas, a Supreme Court Justice appointed by FDR.

The only people who think the conservative justices are “activists” are the leftist activists angry that the Supreme Court isn’t populated by Leftists. In the excerpt from the book, Brinkley describes William O. Douglas as a “committed conservationist” and a “vocal opponent of the Vietnam War.”

Brinkley writes that despite the “hand-wringing” today over the supposed “politicization” of the Court, it was Douglas who was famous for pushing his political agenda while serving on the bench.

During the 1950s as automobile sales surged throughout the country, Justice Douglas was “alarmed” by the smog in cities like New York and Los Angeles.

A fervent liberal, Douglas decried “consumer consumption run amok” and “blasted” the US Army for selling surplus jeeps in the West because the jeeps would be driven on public lands, destroying the environment.

Justice Douglas encouraged environmentalists to sue private companies and even the Army Corps of Engineers for damaging the environment. Douglas also helped environmental groups like the Sierra Club and the Wilderness Society to find pro bono attorneys to take up their cause.

Keep in mind, he was doing all this while serving on the US Supreme Court, where he remained until 1975. Imagine the hue and cry if Justice Clarence Thomas was helping groups like the Thomas More Society find pro bono attorneys to take up their fight for religious liberty.

The screeching from the Left, the media, and Democrat lawmakers would be deafening.

You can read the full excerpt from Douglas Brinkley’s book below.

Supreme Court Activism Didn’t Start With the Far Right. Meet the Liberal Maverick William O. Douglas | Vanity Fair