The dark side of American democracy: Judicial militancy

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By Alagie Saidy-Barrow

Judicial militancy is showcasing the dark side of democracy in America! The simpleminded will claim it’s the rule of law at play but look closer and you’ll see darker forces at play. Dark money controls American politics. And when religion is the foundation, dark money your primer, racism your powder, the law may be your concealer but time, man’s most implacable foe, will always reveal the cracks.

Democracy must be an evolving process, it’s not an ideal that should ever plateau. It shouldn’t have a zenith. It should never have an end. Democracy is enhanced when it has ever expanding frontiers based on the living realities of the people. American democracy stopped evolving because the powers that be convinced themselves that their democracy has reached its zenith. They called it “the most advanced democracy in the world”! They called it a “mature democracy.” It became stagnant. It became the reference point for many. Even as American society evolved, American democracy insisted on its purity. And it’s a purity being adamantly guarded by judicial militants who are more ideologues than rationalists. More purists than latitudinarians. But they are the ones American democracy gave the good people of the nation.

But America should have realized that the evolving nature of societies is incompatible with stagnant democracy. More so in a country marred by majoritarian racism based on misplaced autochthonous and superiority notions. More so in a country cankered by serious wealth disparities along racial lines. More so in a country where people with keys to heaven tightly cling on to fossilized religious edicts based on their own warped interpretation. What’s happening in America goes beyond ideological battles of the so-called Left and Right: People, including children are getting killed!


The majority race will always band together in racist machinations to protect their majority interests and ideals. The rich will always ensure they protect their wealth and get wealthier on the backs of the poor. Runaway capitalism demands that. The law will continue to be the weapon that the racists rely on, and it’s the law that will ensure the wealth disparities remain entrenched. The law will continue to make sure America remains the country with the biggest prison population. And in America, the racists and the rich find mutuality in religion allowing both groups to garner the support of other Whites who are convinced that their termination is in the hands of immigrants (all non-White people.)

Until democracy starts moving again, America will continue to claim democracy while it is slowly being consumed by the dark side of democracy through judicial militancy. You see, America didn’t always have nine black-robed individuals in its Supreme Court. In fact they haven’t always had a Supreme Court. Black people haven’t always had the right to vote (many still don’t). Women haven’t always had the chance to vote (many still don’t). Slavery was very lawful in America (it has since taken the form of mass incarceration and prison labor). But because society evolved and saw some need for change, a Supreme Court was established and eventually, they settled on nine justices. Heck, even self-hating Clarence Thomas found a token seat on the Court. Society evolved and notions of what constitutes democracy evolved. America tried. Some Americans really tried and some are still trying for better. But America stopped trying a while back.

Lesson for Africans: Build your own systems with your own minds and never stop building for better. For you Gambians, wake up from your self-induced slumber that what you have is a democracy. Demand better!