Judge Richard C Wesley, who had worked in the Legislature of New York, and subsequently, in its High Court, gave a speech in the Albany Law School, where in he discussed the technique of appellate judging in Common Law Courts. The second such exposition was at a seminar on the use of legislative history in interpreting New York State and Federal Statue, at the same venue. The discussion dealt with law making and the history of the legislature of this state.
In respect of Article III of the Constitution, he stated that Congress had limited the powers conferred by the constitution in respect of resolution of cases. With regard to judicial verdicts, he discussed the statutory interpretation in respect of several cases which had a bearing on the future of the State as well as the Courts. Further, he expressed his discontent in respect of the process of Judicial Review, which results in the failure of the Court in framing an opinion.
In this context he cited the case of Majewski v Broadalbin – Perth Control School District. The issues discussed were whether the changes in the workers’ compensation law restricting third party tort-fea·sor seeking contribution from an injured employee’s employer were prospective or retroactive.
Though the statute did not provide a clear answer, the Bill’s sponsor in the assembly proclaimed that it was prospective, while the Governor announced at the Bill’s signing that there would be an appreciable reduction in the insurance premia being paid by employers. Based on this outcome, he opined that judges will have to decide what was intended by such legislation. In his opinion, Judicial Activism has been limited to querying the Congress to explain the meaning of the various statutes. In this connection, there are occasions where regulatory or legislative schemes come under scrutiny and come up short under Constitutional Analysis.
Judges have to follow the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. The Supreme Court has heard two cases, U.S.V Baker and U.S.V Fanfan, which more or less signals the end of the sentencing schemes under the Constitution. According to him, the will of Congress does not trump the Constitution. This results in Congress forsaking the guidelines as a discretionary sentencing guide and leaving the task to even up the range of sentences to a law based arbitraryness review.
In another case, Campaign for Fiscal Equity V New York, the Constitutionality and Federalism of the State were challenged. In 1995, the Court had ruled that the plaintiff’s complaint did plead a cause of action on State Constitutional Grounds. The Constitutional Standard for that Mandate was that the State must provide a sound basic education to all New York Children. The outcome of this case was that the School funding is based on political expediency and not on educational necessity.
According to him the Court had transposed the Constitutional Provision from a general commitment to public education into substantive policy – laden guarantee of educational proficiency that would ultimately drag the Courts into a resource allocation fight with the Legislature. Absence of a Legislative Response to a Judicial Decree, declaring the Constitutional shortcomings of a state education system, the Courts have to manage the State’s Education Funding System; this is a job, which the majority of the fiscal equity noted that the Court had neither the authority, the ability nor the will to do.
Richard C Wesley expressed his view that the quasi – legislative/ executive role will strain the Courts’ own intellectual and institutional resources, while providing the Executive with an excuse to usurp the Courts’ Powers. He further, contended that Governing and Judging are two dissimilar things and that the public policy is best formulated by means of public debates.
Though the Judiciary has been granted an independent existence by the Constitution, in reality the Legislature controls it. Since Legislature is the most powerful wing of the U.S.Government, according to Wesley if it fails, there is no further recourse.
The foregoing discussion illustrates the penchant of the legislature to interfere with the functioning of the judiciary. Whenever, the legislature fails to resolve any problem, the judiciary steps in to rectify the same. However, with the legislature making all out efforts to subjugate the judiciary, there is nothing which can retrieve the situation once the legislation fails (Wesley, n.d).
Wesley, Richard C. (n.d.). If Legislatures Fail, Who is there to Follow?