The courts are the final arbiter of human rights in civilized countries. Courts are given responsibility of interpreting the Constitution and laws to protect citizens from the dictatorship of lawmakers. So far, courts have done a good job of protecting the masses. The Supreme Court has, time and again, stepped ahead when an uncaring executive or a power driven legislature was trampling rights of citizens of America.
However, courts have a less than commendable performance when trying to regulate dictatorship and oppression of society. If majority individuals in society follow a particular line of thought or have a particular opinion, a single judgment by a court will not be effective if it goes against popular opinion.
Just take the example of treatment of gays and lesbians in society. There are numerous misconceptions and myths surrounding gays and lesbians. They are compared with pedophiles and perverts. They are considered freaks. Society has sympathy or ridicule. The fact that such gays and lesbians are human beings and need help and assistance but not pity or sympathy is simply lost on society.
Of course, things are not as bad as they were in the past. More and more persons are questioning the beliefs and stereotypes surrounding such different individuals. Those who respect and value freedom point out that ignoring the fundamental rights of any individual simply because he or she is different is as bad as fascism. Yet, the solution to this problem has to be found through churning of social opinion.
Debates, discussions, dissemination of knowledge – this is the way to proceed. A single judgment by a majority of the judges of the topmost judicial institution will sound very good on paper but will make very little difference on the ground. Of course, the judiciary has to be proactive in securing the rights of citizens. However, those who expect it to take care of this issue all by itself are mistaken. In the long run, society will have to change and this change must come from within.